Youth with disabilities: we demand more

 

By Tapiwa Mutizamhepo

 

Parliamentarians should step up and debate a variety of motions that seek to lessen the burden and enhance the quality of life for youth living with different disabilities.

Speaking during interviews with me in Harare this week, youth with disabilities said that Parliament’s deliberate enacting of policies that enhance the inclusivity of youth with disabilities in national affairs is vital. It will shake off the dependency syndrome that has characterise some youth and people with disabilities due to lack of equal opportunities with their counterparts – youth without disabilities.

Coddy, a wheelchair user who sells pirated movie disks at corner Mbuya Nehanda Street and Speke Avenue says that a lot of youth with disabilities have resorted to vending. Some have resorted to begging as they are often discriminated against in programmes meant for the up-liftment of the youth.

“We are discriminated against by society, people have a belief that we are not able to do anything hence we are either not considered or discriminated against whenever a facility meant to benefit the youth is unveiled. As a result you find that youth with disabilities are one of the most impoverished communities in the country”, he said.

“Our wish in 2016 is that Parliament and other relevant authorities come up with laws that ensure that at least 50% of facilities unveiled for the youth projects is reserved for us, that way we will be able to undertake various projects just like anyone else, thereby becoming self-sustaining”, he added.

Judith Mukodzani of Zengeza 5 in Chitungwiza, echoed the same sentiments saying she wished that every youth with a disability could access information from both houses. She said Parliament should also make sure that their debates are also provided in Braille to cater for youth and other visually impaired citizens who would want to follow the August House proceedings.

“Parliament should create some of its hansards and its other documentation in Braille to cater for us that have visual challenges, many of us develop a lack of interest in following Parliament issues not by choice but because no one cares to put the hansards into some form that we understand and can easily follow,” said Judith.

“I think youths with visual and hearing impairments are the most affected as not much has been done to ensure that they acquire relevant information on Parliament business. A gap is created between them and mainstream society due to a lack of enabling resources, some decisions with a direct bearing on their lives are made without their input…..Parliament should move in swiftly to address that,” she added.

Mr Blessing Marezva, a student at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Ruwa, said that in 2016 Parliament should adopt motions that seek to provide a quota system for disabled people just like the women quota system.

“In 2016 I want to see Parliament coming up with laws that will increase the representation of people with disabilities in both houses of Parliament, having two senators for a population of about two million people is not enough, I believe if our issues are to be taken seriously in Parliament, we ought to have at least ten parliamentarians advocating for disability issues.”

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