The newly elected Zambian government has indicated it will urgently review the disability Act Cap 33 of 1996, to improve the living standards of persons with disabilities. The Deputy Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Ms Jean Kapata also disclosed that the government will also domesticate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Ms Kapata disclosed this after conducting a tour of the National Rehabilitation Centre (NVRC) in Ndola. She said that the new Patriotic Front (PF) government will ensure that the review of the Act in question is concluded. “The review of the Act 33 cap 65 of the Laws of Zambia whose review started way back in 1985, will be expedited and concluded,” she said. She said that currently, there is no report on whether the Act has been concluded or not. Ms Kapata stated that the PF government had the persons with disabilities at heart.
Zambia to domesticate UNCRPD soon
On the domestication of the UNCRPD, she said that this has to be done. She said that Zambia should not lag on most international agreements. Ms Kapata called on the business community to supplement Government efforts in improving the living standards of persons with disabilities. She said that funding for various institutions under her ministry is expected to increase in year 2013. And speaking at the same fora, Acting Principal for the NVRC Ms Mary Lungu explained that there was need for government to provide adequate funding to the institution. If the welfare of persons with disabilities is to improve. Also at the same function, the Director General for the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD), Mr Charles Mwape stated that ZAPD has not been adequately funded for a long time now. “For example, in the 2011 budget, ZAPD requested for 16 billion Zambian Kwacha, but only 5 billion kwacha was allocated, which is not enough,” Mr Mwape stated. [cited from Zambia Daily Mail, monday 10/10/2011].
The MMD Government past efforts on disability
In year 2008, the then Movement for Multi-Party Government signed the UNCRPD and early 2010, they ratified it at the UN. Since then, there have been efforts to kick-start the domestication process, but this has been delayed, with the road-map not being clear for all stakeholders to follow. With the momentum of the new PF government which had committed itself to demonstrating tangible service delivery and policy, and legislative changes within 90 days of being voted into office, Persons with disabilities are waiting to see what is in store for them, like other Zambians. More recent pronouncements on zero-tolerance on corruption, freedom of information, and the plans to decentralise government operations to district levels are the ‘earliest signs’ of delivery for the new government.
The NAD and NFU, two widely experienced international NGO’s from Norway, who operate under a joint Zambian registered programme, the Norwegian Disability Consortium, looks forward to working closely with the new PF government on the processes to revise the outdated Disability Act 33, of 1996; Review the Community Based Rehabilitation Policy (CBR) for Zambia, the domestication road-map for the UNCRPD, other related policies, legislation and programmes to enhance the livelihood of persons with disabilities in Zambia.
Labour Minister saddened by lack of disability data
Labour minister, Fackson Shamenda has stated that there is need for all public buildings to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Mr shamenda also noted that more often, lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the true effects of disabilities often led to social, economic and political exclusion of persons with disabilities.
The Minister explained this when he officiated at the opening of the Paralympic Committee Youth Leadership summit for Southern Africa hosted by Zambia. ” Exclusion of persons with disabilities may be intentional or unintentional. I would like to assure delegates that government will do everything possible to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same rights as any other citizens, ” he said. Mr Shamenda was confident that knowledge shared at the forum would benefit all the countries in southern africa, enhancing how sports is managed.
And speaking at the same fora, president for the Zambia Paralympic Committee, Mr Lango Sinkamba said his organisation realises that sports can play an important role in the lives of persons with disabilities. “Now we have hope in the new Patriotic Front (PF) government that sports for persons with disabilities shall be on the centre stage for every sports development process,” he said. Participants were drawn from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. [cited from Zambia Daily Mail of Saturday, 08/10/2011]
Norwegian commitment to Zambia’s disability movement
The Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) and the Norwegian Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (NFU) stands ready to consider entering into a possible agreement with the PF led government to assist strengthen service delivery to and for persons with disabilities, using its past experience of working in similar low income countries in southern Africa. Norwegian support to Zambia dates back to the early 1970’s when Norway, through NORAD funded volunteer placements to support Zambia’s disability work, on a country-wide scale.