Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
GOVERNMENT has been urged to increase representation of disabled people in Parliament to allow for inclusion of their needs in the formulation of policies.
Freedom to the Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (FDPZ) director Mr Wallace Mupfumwa said there was urgent need to have more representatives in both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.
“So far we only have two representatives in Senate, but there is no representative in the National Assembly,” he said. “We feel two people are not enough to sufficiently cover issues to do with dis-abled persons and the concerns of people living with disabilities can only be discussed in Senate.
“Since the National Assembly has the final say on policy issues, this scenario puts the disabled people at a disadvantage since there is no one to push their issues.”
Mr Mupfumwa said Government should consider introducing a quota system for the representation of people living with disability, much like the women’s quota in Parliament.
The proportional representation quota under the Constitution provides for the reservation of 60 seats in the National Assembly for women.
“We feel there should be a provision in the Constitution for a quota system that reserves at least 10 seats in Parliament for people with disabilities,” he said.
Mr Mupfumwa said representation in Senate should also be increased from two representatives for the whole disabled population in the country to at least one representative per province.
“We also need to make sure that those representatives will cover every one including youths and women,” he said. “This way, our voice will be heard and we can start making meaningful contributions to national development.”
Government has expressed its commitment to enhancing the lives of people living with disabilities and ensuring that they contribute to the country’s economic development.
In line with that commitment, Government is currently finalising a National Disability Policy meant to facilitate disability inclusion in Zimbabwe.
Once in place, it is hoped that the policy will go a long way in furthering disability inclusion by providing guidance to both Government and other stakeholders on disability issues.