Government has committed itself to strengthening relations with relevant sectors of society to make sure that the rights of people with disability are protected as enshrined in the Constitution. This is according to Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities in the Presidency, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Her department, together with that of Social Development, kick-started the Disability Rights Awareness Month in Pretoria.
Government has set itself a time frame of at least five years in which to ensure that the rights of persons with disability are not overlooked. This will include removing all economic stumbling blocks that prevent them from participating in the mainstream economy of South Africa.
Launching the month of persons with disability, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane says all stakeholders must come on board to make sure that the disabled population is equally catered for, both economically and educationally.
“We take special interest because we have been given this responsibility. So, working together with other partner departments like Social Development, Education and others such economic structures and we’ve just listened to the Finance Minister’s Mid-Term Budget Speech. So we must go into those gaps to make sure that disabled people not only feel needed but fully participate in growing South Africa forward.”
Her sentiments are equally supported by Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
She emphasised that communities need to be conscious about the rights of persons with disability.
“This month we are supposed to use it as a month of mobilizing our communities and society in general to be very conscious of the rights of people with disability. But it is also a month where we raise awareness within our own government departments to work together to create a conducive environment for people living with disability.”
Advocacy groups for persons with disability, however, received the minister’s commitments with a pinch of salt.
Sfiso Mkhasibe says they still feel marginalized with the range of issues and decisions that are taken on their behalf.
“The first priority that we are raising and that we spoke about that we want to highlight is that our education is in distress. So the sector calls for relevant departments to host an indaba to identify blockages and seek solutions to this difficult situation.”
A series of events to advocate and mobilize society about the rights of persons with disability have been planned until the 3rd of December countrywide.
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