Zimbabwe ratifies African Disability Protocol, paving the way for improved rights and inclusion The motions for ratification were moved by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Mercy Dinha.

Peter Tanyanyiwa
Herald Correspondent

In a groundbreaking move, the Zimbabwean Government has officially ratified the African Disability Protocol (ADP), thereby signalling a significant stride in safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities.

The announcement, published by the Herald on the 16th of May 2024, has sparked joy and commendation within the community of persons with disabilities.

The ADP stands as the premier pan-African human rights treaty crafted to tackle the diverse forms of discrimination impacting people with disabilities on the continent, encompassing harmful practices, beliefs, and superstitions.

The historic achievement comes after years of relentless advocacy and lobbying spearheaded by Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, in partnership with local organisations of persons with disabilities such as the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) and Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (OPDs).

In response to the ratification, Ms. Joyce Matara, the acting executive director of NASCOH, expressed her elation.

“This is a historic moment for Zimbabwe and for persons with disabilities across Africa,” she said.

She underscored the pivotal role of the ADP in addressing harmful practices, discrimination, and inequality, and its potential to enhance the lives of millions of persons with disabilities within the African and Zimbabwean contexts.

Mr Leornad Marange, national director for FODPZ and chairperson for Equal Zimbabwe emphasised the significance of the ratification.

“The ratification of the ADP demonstrates Zimbabwe’s commitment to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities to ensure they can access their rights on an equal basis with others. We now look forward to the domestication of the ADP,” he said.

The ADP builds upon the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), specifically addressing the unique forms of discrimination affecting over 80 million people with disabilities residing in African countries. Once ratified, the protocol will establish a duty for member countries to formulate and enforce disability-specific laws and policies in accordance with the treaty, empowering their citizens to hold them accountable.

Ms Barbra Nyangairi, the executive director of Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, expressed delight at the ratification.

“We are delighted this important human rights charter has finally been ratified by our Government. It has been a long journey, but this is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive society where people with disabilities are protected by specific laws which cater to their needs,” she said.

Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign continues to collaborate with persons with disabilities in 13 countries, advocating for the ratification of the ADP and the protection of the rights of people with disabilities across the continent.

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