By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
People living with the disability say the ongoing biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise is discriminatory as most of the information that has been disseminated has left out the deaf, dumb and the blind.
According to Bensen Banga a disability activist, there has not been enough information disseminated to ensure the disabled are aware of the new registration exercise, adding that this will go a long way in disenfranchising them from this important exercise.
“The campaigns being launched by civic organizations and ZEC are discriminatory in nature as they don’t cater for the deaf, dumb and the blind,” he said.
Weighing in on the matter, YARD Harare provincial commander Henry Kani said ZEC and civic organizations should also use sign language to cater for the deaf and also pointed out that most voter registration centres are not disability-friendly.
“Having been around to most registration centres we noted that they are not user-friendly to the disabled community particularly those on wheelchairs and the ZEC staff is not trained to attend to their needs,” Kani said.
Last week, legislators took the new Minister of Justice Happyton Bonyongwe to task demanding to know what government was doing to include people with disability in the voter registration exercise.
In August this year, the Zimbabwe People and Parents for Children with Disabilities (ZPPCD) petitioned President Robert Mugabe, then Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and then Public Service Minister Priscah Mupfumira over the lack of universal access to polling stations.
The Election Resource Centre and ZimRights are on a joint voter mobilisation campaign which has seen them deploying 10 trucks across the country’s provinces where they are holding road shows meant to urge more people to register.
However, contacted for comments, both ERC and ZimRights could not shed light as to whether there are efforts to ensure that the deaf also receives this vital information during their campaign.
According to statistics, people living with disability constitute about 10 percent of the country’s population.
According to state media, Zanu PF has already started mobilising the disabled community with the party’s secretary for disability Joshua Malinga urging disabled people to vote for President Mugabe in the 2018 elections.