17 July 2018

Namibia: People Living With Disabilities Still Marginalised

PEOPLE living with disabilities are still sidelined in the workforce, with figures showing that they only made 0,4% of a total of 263 720 employees during the 2016/17 financial year.

The Employment Equity Commission (EEC)'s 2016/17 annual report shows that out of these figures, only 0,8% were holding managerial positions during the period under review.

These figures contradict the country's national programme of affirmative action, whose objective is to drive the workplace transformation agenda.

Employment equity commissioner Vilbard Usiku said the figures achieved for persons living with disabilities were disappointing when compared to those of other groups.

"This, once again, calls for concerted efforts to bring about equitable representation of the apparent marginalisation of persons living with disabilities in order to attain the social inclusion objective.

The commission has undertaken to give priority to the cause of persons living with disabilities in their interaction with employers and other stakeholders," he stated.

Usiku added that it is in the country's best interest to transform the workplace so that all citizens enjoy equal employment opportunities, "and have equal access for the number of employees covered by the affirmative action programme, and the improved representation of persons in designated groups at key employment levels."

The report showed that a total of 877 employers submitted affirmative action reports, which represented a 15% rise in the number of such reports received by the commission during the previous period.

The reports submitted during the year under review covered 263 720 employees, an increase of 32% across all sectors.

White employees accounted for 56% of executive directors during the review period, a 2% decline, while 14% of executive directors were non-Namibians, and only 29% were previously racially disadvantaged Namibians.

Speaking at the opening of the sixth EEC meeting last Thursday, labour minister Erkki Nghimtina said the Affirmative Action Act aims to guide employers to eliminate employment barriers against persons in designated groups with a view to ensuring that they are equitably represented at all levels of employment.

"The apartheid regime's employment policies left a legacy of disparities in terms of the distribution of jobs, incomes and occupations. I expect from the commission, as a collective, to ensure that no person is denied any employment opportunity for reasons unrelated to ability to perform," he stressed.

- charmaine@namibian.com.na

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