Government crafts National Disability Policy

Government is in the process of adopting and implementing a national disability policy and plan of action with clear priorities measurable and focused on promoting the well-being of persons with disabilities in wake of the structural barriers to disability inclusion.
The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs are both clearly inclusive of persons with disabilities. The 2030 Agenda commits, in the same spirit as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to empower those at risk of vulnerability, including persons with disabilities. It also promotes universal respect for human rights, equality and non-discrimination.
Speaking during the Persons with Disabilities Inclusion in the SDGs processes workshop organised by National Association for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) and Sight Savers Zimbabwe, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima said to ensure effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, there is need for empirically sound evidence-based policy making.
He mentioned that ZIMSTAT is pivotal in this regard.
“Carrying out evidence-based policy making, however, requires strong statistical systems as well as a sound, credible and well disaggregated database.
Capacitating the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT) is therefore necessary to effectively address the data requirements of the 2030 Agenda and close the data gaps.
“There is need to continuously improve collection, analysis and dissemination of high quality, reliable and timely data, disaggregated by sex, ethnicity, disability, region and other relevant variables. Effective local action requires disaggregated data collection and management at various local levels” said Professor Mavhima.
He added;
“My Ministry takes cognisance of the fact that disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts that relate to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs”.
Special Advisor on National Disability Issues in the Office of the President and Cabinet – Honourable Joshua Malinga articulated that the ruling party is increasingly noting the importance of integrating PWDs throughout all strategic positions of governance as evidenced by its constitutional obligation to ensure that all sectors of PWDs will be represented by PWDs from the community to National level as a matter of right.
Director of Disability Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Christine Peta emphasized that the National Disability Policy will close all the gaps and loopholes which were preventing the successful implementation of SDGs for PWDs.
She bemoaned several civil societal organisations who are using PWDs to source funds for self gain.
“We are looking forward to having our policy approved by Cabinet, hopefully by end of this year or during the first quarter of the year 2021, we want to close all the loopholes because the policy has a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
“It’s a shame how some people are fast becoming opportunists, they gather and take pictures of mothers who have Children with Disabilities and splash them on their websites to attract funding from genuine well wishers but for their personal gain,” she said.
Dr Peta went to say that they are trying to break the Silo mentality whereby there is reluctance to share information among employees of different divisions in the same company. This attitude is seen as reducing the organization’s efficiency and, at worst, contributing to a damaged corporate culture.
She encouraged unity and collective effort among the stakeholders to prevent misinformation and the spread of falsehoods that are likely to impede progress.
Dr Peta also urged people to use person-first language when referring to PWDs. Disability etiquette acknowledges a person’s humanity before conveying an objective fact. She said becoming aware of perceptions, stereotypes and discomforts around particular disabilities is the first step towards addressing subtle biases that could possibly be projected onto individuals with disabilities.
“You will find that we still have a lot of people in society who refer PWDs as People living with Disabilities, noone lives with Disabilities but people may live with friends or family. That etiquette is crucial because sometimes the moment one reads “living with Disabilities”, automatically they lose interest, that’s a huge loss to us who are interested in disseminating crucial information sorrounding disability,” said Dr Peta.
Also speaking, Advocate Abraham Mateta said there is need to pay mind to the plight of PWDs throughout all aspects of development. He reiterated that information must be easily accessible for example sharing information in audio format, creation of websites which are accessible to PWDs and easy to read material for instance in picture format so that they are able to participate as well.
He cited that poverty is the major barrier for PWDs’ inclusivity therefore government should consider investing in resources which have direct benefits to PWDs.
“We need social safety nets, disability has always been known as a welfare issue because people allowed it to sink into poverty,” he also said.


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