PLWDs raise concerns over 2018 vote

HARARE - People living with disabilities (PLWDs) want the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to put specific registration measures that would allow their constituencies to participate in next year’s crucial elections —starting with the biometric voter registration exercise which got underway last week.

Senator representing people living with disabilities, Nyamayabo Mashavakure, said the importance of a friendly environment for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to vote cannot be over emphasised.

“I have put it to Zec that we need things like sign language, voter education material in braille and that registration centres be easily accessible.

“Even the tables need to be friendly to those who are physically challenged and the personnel who are conducting the registration process.

“Personally, I can’t see and I would need an electronic system that tells me the information I have entered,” Mashavakure told the Daily News.

Zec chairperson Rita Makarau (pictured) acknowledged the gap and insisted the commission was working to improve the situation but could not be drawn to give a definite date when this would be put in place.

“We have taken note of that. We are working on it,” Makarau told the Daily News.

Late last month, physically-challenged persons staged a demonstration in Harare in protest over the lack of universal accessibility at polling stations that make individuals with disabilities feel like an afterthought.

The Zimbabwe People and Parents for Children with Disabilities (ZPPCD) presented a petition to President Robert Mugabe, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Social Welfare minister Priscah Mupfumira.

They said polling stations lack all of the accommodations necessary for people with limited mobility to use and wanted voting booths fitted with ramps and made accessible to people on wheelchairs.

Their concerns also include accessibility of registration centres, availability of assistive services such as sign language interpretation for the deaf and voter education material in braille.

They said the lack of attention to this issue sends out a message that the votes of disabled people do not matter.

Comments (2)

Government officials and state should help disability

Face - 19 September 2017

The country is moving too slowly on disability issues. We need the alignment of the Disabled Persons Act 1992 with the new Constitution as well as the formulation and adoption of a national disability policy to guide the goings-on in disability issues. To date the National Disability Board members are yet to be appointed. The tenure of the last Board members expired in February 2017 and up to now nothing has been done by the Ministry, showing that disabiity is not a major concern of government.

PWDs - 20 September 2017

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