By Joyce Mukucha
In an initiative to offer effective implementation of programmes that uplift the lives of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and include them in all aspects of day to day lives as a right and not as a privilege the Ministry of Social and Labour Welfare has appointed the 6th National Disability Board.
Addressing the board members, Petronella Kagonye, the Minister Labour and Social Welfare said the board was meant to formulate and develop policies, issues and strategies designed to ensure that (PWDs) live independent lives and that they have access to all social services.
“As such we still have a lot of issues to attend to where the board will be called upon to facilitate in areas such as finalisation of the National Disability Policy and the alignment of the Disabled Persons Act to the Constitution. As you are aware the running of Welfare and rehabilitation programs for PWDs is guided by the Disabled Persons Act chapter 17:01
“Please be advised that your new responsibilities require you to be committed, vigilant and determined. Being a board member requires you to be the eyes and ears of all (PWDs), Kagonye said.
Kagonye urged the media to be a watchdogs and expose violations of the (PWDs) whether in private or public forums.
The appointment of the members came as one of the programmes within the ministry that has been earmarked for the 100-day Rapid Results Initiatives which calls for all people to join hands and work hard towards the success of the initiative.
Joshua Malinga, the Special Advisor to the President said there was need to empower PWDs and serve their interests. He said they should thrive to give this special group access to quality education, sports and avoid exclusion and discrimination.
Anna Shiri, a Senator and representative of the PWDs in the Parliament urged the newly appointed board to push disability policies including the financial inclusions for the welfare of the special group which happens to be the PWDs.
Mercy Maunganidze, the newly appointed Board Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Albino Association said she cherished to serve the special group of people with disabilities (PWDs).
“With support and wisdom we can make it to the top. This group of people is usually treated as outcasts but if we continue working together we will uplift the lives of the PWDs,” Maunganidze said.
Zimbabwe ratified the United Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2013. It also has the Disability Act in place.