PLWDs call for inclusion in COVID-19 cushioning funds

The Senator representing people with disabilities in Zimbabwe, Watson Khupe has called on the government to come up with alternative ways to disburse cushioning funds to PLWDs.

The government announced that vulnerable citizens will receive ZWL$200 to cushion them against the effects of the national lockdown which has resulted in many people losing their income.

The funds will be transferred via mobile money transfer platforms.

However, Senator Khupe, said some PLWDs live in areas where there are mobile network challenges and he fears they might lose of the funds.

“Some of the PLWDs live in areas without mobile network so the idea of sending the cushioning funds through mobile services is not possible because most of them would not receive the funds,” said Hon Khupe.

He added that the government should consider working with headmen and chiefs to make sure that everyone receives the funds.

“Government should consider involving Chiefs, councillors and headmen in the disbursement of funds to PLWDs as they know who they are because some of them do not even have a mobile phone,” said the Senator.

He also implored local authorities to work with PLWDs in making sure that they get adequate water supplies.

“Most major cities especially Harare, Bulawayo and Gweru go for up to five days without water supplies and this troubles an ordinary citizen who is able-bodied water more someone with a disability,” he said.

Senator Khupe also applauded governments efforts to make sure that mealie meal is accessible to everyone without a hassle.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Down Syndrome Association director Sibonisiwe Mazula said most PLWDs are facing challenges in accessing critical information especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People living with disabilities are facing challenges right from getting information in the right format especially the visually and hearing Impaired are being deprived their rights of getting or receiving information like every citizen,” said Mazula.

“Those with physical disabilities are having challenges with public transport. I know of someone whose relatives sent some money from the diaspora, he had to hire someone to go and collect his money.”

She added that while the government has availed funds to cushion PLWDs there is still a lot of paperwork involved.

“Most people with disabilities are in the informal sector you can imagine the situation they have to face.  Parents of children with disabilities are struggling to get food on the table.  Yes, the government has put some systems to help but it’s not helping those who have to go to the social welfare offices to have their paperwork processed,” said Mazula.

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