Human Impact Stories

DISABILITY SPACES IN ZIMBABWE AND PEACE BUILDING

Samson Tanaka Mawere • 14 April 2020

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DISABILITY SPACES IN ZIMBABWE

Disability spaces for learning, teaching and administration are not really been observed in Zimbabwe societies as supposed to. It is no doubt, that persons with disabilities are still stigmatized and excluded in Zimbabwe. However, actors like government and non-governmental organizations are working towards shaping, defining, issues surrounding disability. This imply creating space for persons with disabilities to enhance inclusion and contributors towards meaningful development and positive peace.

Zimbabwe is one of the member country signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD). Persons with disabilities continues to face multiple of challenges because socially, attitude of non-disabled people disable persons with disabilities from contributing to the extent that they do not have self-worth. Moreso, programmes and projects in the disability sector most of them are designed exclusively by able-bodied people and tend to leave disabled people out of decision-making process. Actors such as government and non-governmental organization focus on individual competence that serve their interests usually economic that drive political activity. In essence what they consider good to their benefit restricting persons with disabilities from participation.

What needs to be put into consideration and in practice is understanding disability is an issue that touches us all. A vision that enables disabled persons play a full part in the decision making processes that shape their own lives. This significantly extends opportunities and decent lives to as many disabled people as possible thus positive peace is enhanced.

Furthermore, change of attitudes. Attitudes that forbid discrimination and demand for inclusion, a world no one is shut out. Key words would be liberation and empowerment to fulfil potential and peace building. Veronica Mwanza (Deaf Zimbabwe Trust- Sign Language Interpreter/Programmes Officer) alluded that everyone has a role to play in helping to move the issues forward. They are training the young individuals in and out of school as Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) champions inclusive of those with disabilities so far they have trained in schools such as Success College, St. Manocks in Mt. Humpden, Nyabira Secondary School, Danhiko and Deaf Zimbabwe School. The targeted areas have been lacking SRHR support because of marginalization, disability and communities they leave at times do not prioritize the needs of the young people especially persons with disabilities. Peer to peer support has proved to be effective as they can teach their counterparts. Setting up of clubs in schools will always go on even the project ends.

There is also need to consider a unit for disability in each and every ministry, be it in education, health and agriculture. The idea of setting a ministry of social welfare on its own perceive persons with disabilities as a problem rather than a priority and as charity that regards person with disabilities as passive recipients of rehabilitation.

By drawing on the above, creation of meaningful spaces for persons with disabilities is very crucial for active participation and to enhance meaningful development where they can plan and implement solutions to their plight.  Let us continue to be peace ambassadors and be enablers not disablers.