Parliamentarians want to raise the number of seats reserved in the Senate for people with disabilities and reserve such seats in the National Assembly, a move that will require a constitutional amendment.
People living with disabilities are experiencing acute challenges related to discrimination, limited access to health and employment opportunities and unequal access to credit and other productive resources to become self-reliant.
This came out last week when the chairperson of the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development and Bulawayo Metropolitan Senator Siphiwe Ncube was presenting the committee's report on the plight of people with disabilities.
The report also touched on challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities in Zimbabwe.
Sen Ncube said highlights of the committee findings pertained to barriers faced by people with disabilities in the physical environment, access to health, education, awareness and access to social services, discrimination and abuse, assistive technology and availability of social amenities.
"The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should come up with a comprehensive policy by 2020 that ensures that persons with disabilities are given preferential access to key resources such as land, residential stands and medical treatment in order to improve their welfare and livelihoods through subsidising and payment of deposits," she said.
"As from 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care should put in place a deliberate social policy that exempts people with disabilities and their children from paying consultation fees, as well as purchasing their life saving drugs at subsidised prices to improve their access to health facilities and critical drugs."
Sen Ncube said the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education should ensure HEXCO exams were suitable for students with disabilities beginning with the 2020 national exams.
"The Ministry of Health and Child Care and its agencies, including National Aids Council and Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, in conjunction with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, should within two years disseminate to all places and produce information on sexual and reproductive rights of people with disabilities through sign language and braille system documents," she said.
"Political participation of women with disabilities must be encouraged in political parties, including increasing their representation (particularly representation of women with disabilities) in Parliament, to ensure that their issues are mainstreamed in all policies and legislation.
"The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare should in 2020 broadly consult and compile a national sign language dictionary for use by all institutions and general citizens.
"On the same note, all teachers that have specialised training in handling special education for the disabled children should with immediate effect be awarded special allowances."