MDC Alliance pokes holes in National Disability Policy

THE MDC Alliance’s National Disability Council says the newly launched National Disability Policy has a number of gaps that need to be looked at while arguing that the country has no legislative framework within which the policy can be operationalised.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Disability Policy in Harare on Tuesday, which was said to be in line with the Government’s objectives of involving all sectors of society in the county’s development to achieve goals set out in Vision 2030.

However, Secretary for Persons with Disabilities, Denias Mudzingwa in the MDC Alliance’s Disability Council noted the policy seeks to set very ambitious targets without laying the groundwork.

“We note the National Disability Policy seeks to create disability focal points across all ministries, the elaboration of a number of disability rights and the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD). But there is no legislative framework within which the policy can be operationalised,” he told CITE.

Although Zimbabwe ratified the UNCRPD in 2013, Mudzingwa noted the main piece of legislation on disability in the country remains the 1992 Disabled Persons Act (Chapter 17:01).

“The new policy purports to bind various people and institutions and created offences that are not found in our law,” he said.

“The council is accordingly dismayed that there was a rush to start with a purported disability policy before enacting an up to date disability legislation. That is like trying to build a wall when there is no foundation, it is not sustainable.”

Mudzingwa said self-representation remained a crucial component of any constitutional democracy, which was what people with disabilities needed.

“In disability rights, we say, ‘Nothing for us without us.’ The newly launched policy, while purporting to be based on the social and human rights models to disability is essentially a product of the charity model that it seeks to replace,” he said, noting that in terms of the existing law, the national disability board was reduced to a mere spectator, only to be consulted when it held no real capacity to ac.

“This shows the disdain that the government holds for both the law of the land and persons with disabilities.”

The activist said the National Disability Policy gives unfettered power to the government’s Disability Department and leaves no meaningful administrative room for persons with disabilities to be involved in decision-making processes.

“This flies in the face of the UNCRPD that mandates state parties to ensure that, in all things concerning them, persons with disabilities, including children should be involved. We take strong exception to the way Zanu-PF calls leaders of the organisations of persons with disabilities to support half-baked measures, such as the so-called National Disability Policy, which is impossible to implement,” Mudzingwa highlighted.

He further indicated that an “MDC government” willfully domesticate the UNCRPD and treat persons with disabilities as rights holders rather than recipients of charity.

“It is time we put a stop to the culture of calling persons with disabilities to rubber-stamp decisions that do not give full expression to our rights,” Mudzingwa said.

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