Parly calls for electoral reforms to cater for PWDs

There is a need for Zimbabwe to review its electoral system and come up with robust measures that cater for the needs of the People with Disabilities (PWDs) by affording them an equal opportunity to participate in electoral processes from the grassroots level, Parliament has said. 

The recommendation comes after members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare visited Uganda to understand the electoral systems and electoral laws that govern the election of PWDs Parliamentarians and political duty bearers in Uganda. 

Presenting their report to the august House, the Chairperson of the Committee, Emma Ncube, said it is important to have PWDs participating in the electoral process from the grassroots so that they may be able to adequately articulate issues affecting them. 

The committee noted that having representation at the National Assembly level only is not enough, there should be adequate representation from the council going upwards. 

“Representation of PWDs from the grassroots allows meaningful and effective representation since they will be aware of issues.  Effective and meaningful representation from the villages is possible mainly because the electoral system depends heavily on the use of the local structures for persons with disabilities’ register which is necessary if one is to contest under the persons with disabilities banner,” Ncube said. 

“Disaggregated figures are required for the Electoral Commission to plan and reasonably accommodate (PWDs). There is need to have statistics of PWDs and their disabilities. Uganda undertook an awareness campaign exercise on the rights of PWDs through different platforms to sensitise the citizens to their rights to participate in politics.  In Uganda and Zimbabwe, PWDs are free to join any political party and to contest for a seat as a Member of Parliament or any position.  The challenge is that the PWDs find it difficult to compete with able-bodied candidates in terms of finances and mobility and due to stigmatisation.”   

Ncube said going forward, the Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] must be amended to do away with an Electoral College constituted by associations and Private Voluntary Organisations which may, in some instances only be found at national level leaving out many constituency members at grassroots level.  

“Political parties should financially support their respective PWDs Political Flag Duty Bearers who might intend to contest as Members of Parliament or Councillors since most of these PWDS will need political mentorship,” she recommended. 

“ZEC should, through voter education, encourage the participation of PWDs in the electoral process from registering as voters to running for office. The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency should also avail disaggregated figures on persons with disability and the nature of disability to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to plan and reasonably accommodate persons with disability.” 

Ncube further encouraged disability movements in Zimbabwe to unite under one council preferably the National Disability Council so that they can champion electoral systems and electoral laws that are disability-inclusive.  

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