By Felex Share
Persons living with disabilities yesterday said they would rally behind President Mnangagwa in the July 30 harmonised elections to consolidate gains achieved under the new dispensation. There are over 50 organisations representing people with disabilities (PWDs) with a combined membership of more 1,2 million people.
The organisations’ leadership, drawn from the 10 provinces, held an inaugural meeting with President Mnangagwa in Harare yesterday.
The interactive meeting saw the groups raising their concerns to the Head of State and Government who took time to respond to all issues raised.
Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe chairman Mr Watson Khupe said by voting for President Mnangagwa, they were advancing successes recorded under his administration.
“The President has come here representing Government and Zanu-PF. That Government belongs to the people’s party, Zanu-PF. He has shown us love and we will also show the same love on July 30.
“It is good that when he forms his next Cabinet, it will be easy for us to continue with our issues. We cannot support his Government and hate Zanu-PF. Government is a creature of the ruling party.”
National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped leader Mr Tsarai Mungoni said: “We definitely promise that as persons with disabilities we will vote for you resoundingly.”
Advisor to the President on National Disability Issues Cde Joshua Malinga said President Mnangagwa was a listening leader who deserved maximum support.
“This is an opportunity we have been waiting for for 38 years,” he said.
“Let us reap great benefits from it. We are very fortunate that we have a listening President. Mr President I am receiving maximum support from every minister, all disabled people and from you.”
During the interactive meeting, the disabled presented to the President a proposed charter encapsulating rights and privileges of PWDs.
The charter has 25 articles covering education, housing, social security, transport, incentives among other needs.
Presenting the document, Mrs Roseweta Mudarikwa from the Network of African Women with Disabilities (NAWD), said the rights should come with responsibilities.
“It does not mean that Government should do things for us whilst we sit on our laurels,” she said.
“We have to get involved and play an active role at all levels. We can effectively participate in our national building processes by being policy makers and implementers of a jointly well-crafted, inclusive development agenda. If given an opportunity we can contribute in every way.”
President Mnangagwa found time to respond to the issues the PWDs raised.
The disabled said Government was yet to domesticate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which it ratified in 2013.
President Mnangagwa responded: “I will alert the Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs to process that in Parliament. Be rest assured it will be domesticated in the next session of Parliament.”
On establishment of a disability grant and loan scheme to empower people living with disabilities, President Mnangagwa said there was no discrimination and an empowerment bank was on the cards.
President Mnangagwa said the appointment of PWDs to various positions as well as establishment of disability desks in every Government Ministry would be done.
He said some of the requests by the delegates required constitutional amendments.
Minister Petronella Kagonye (Labour and Social Welfare) and David Parirenyatwa (Health and Child Care) attended the event.