People living with disabilities across the country fail to have full access to basic public amenities, due to wide lack of structures friendly to disabled persons, a representative of the disabled has said.
By Simon Phiri
Speaking during a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition capacity building meeting held in Zvishavane last Friday, Zvishavane Urban Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (Zurra) member representing people with disabilities and special needs, Denias Mudzingwa, said most disabled persons were finding it difficult to mobilise with ease in the country.
He said public toilets, community halls and most provincial government offices needed to be restructured to accommodate at least the blind and people on wheelchairs.
“Disabled persons are quite a number in our communities, but you don’t see them around because the facilities in our towns are not friendly. For instance, people on wheelchairs cannot access our community halls unless someone lifts them up the stairs.
The case is worse with our government offices especially in Zvishavane,” Mudzingwa said.
“Public toilets need to be renovated and have ramps, not only stairs, so that the disabled can easily find their way in and out without requiring aids all the time.”
The majority of persons living in high-density suburbs of Zvishavane use public toilets.
Mudzingwa also called for government to assist in the processes of producing Braille versions of the country’s Constitution and other public documents, if the disabled persons are to actively participate in the development of the country.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition research and planning manager Thulani Mswelanto echoed similar sentiments and called for local authorities and the government to work towards making lives easier for the disabled persons.
“It’s a prerogative upon the council and the government to make sure that public and even private facilities are structured in a way that allows everyone to have full access despite one’s physical condition,” he said.
Zurra chairperson Brian Magwizi said the welfare of the disabled could be improved if the local authorities included special interest councilors in their set ups.
“There must be someone to represent the needs of the disabled in the local authorities, we need to have special interest councilors who need not to go through polls to get in there,” he said.