Wednesday, 8 May 2019

FIRST LADY MEETS THE DISABLED


First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday engaged the disabled with a view of finding ways of improving their welfare.

She interacted with them and listened to their grievances, chief among them stigma and discrimination.

It also came out during the meeting that members of this community were failing to make headway owing to non-coherence and the existence of too many representative groups.

Some of the representatives said some of their members were not forthcoming on the formation of a collective body and called on the First Lady to intervene with ideas and strategies as their mother.
  
The First Lady pledged to support the community and advised them to form one solid organisation to make it easier for those who would want to help them to do so.

“I am aware that you are facing a number of challenges and I have come here today to open up ways of communicating with you and also let you know that I can support you,” she said.

“My problem all along has been that I receive a lot of requests from a number of your organisations, various groups of people and also individuals. In this regard, I want us to come up with a strategy of communicating and better ways of supporting you. Let us put our heads together and come up with solutions.”

The First Lady commended the New Dispensation for supporting people living with disabilities.

“Historically, persons with disabilities have never been treated as normal human beings and this attitude has continued since ancient history and even up to now, their rights and dignity is still not respected by many,” she said.

“Persons with disabilities have suffered all types of segregation throughout different phases of history. We can only learn from the past in dealing with the current and future problems. Government under the New Dispensation has gone a step further by creating an inclusive society for all, where persons with disabilities and non-disabled people share the same community services.

“This New Dispensation is about new ideas, doing things differently and instead of begging, crying and asking for sympathy, we stand up to be empowered to live our own lives with confidence.

“Government will continue to ensure that persons with disabilities are protected from all forms of discrimination, harm and enjoy unlimited access to all facilities in society.”

The First Lady donated various equipment used by the disabled and handed them to Dr Joshua Malinga, the Special Advisor on Disability Issues in the President’s Office.

She urged him to distribute them to members who are in need. Dr Malinga thanked the First Lady for her love and support towards people living with disabilities.

“I believe that after this meeting, there will be change in the way the disabled are treated.

“Disability is still treated with fear and ignorance and Amai is concerned about the situation of the disabled in the country. We should treat this meeting as the beginning of the end of our problems,” he said.

He said the disabled community should put their house in order and organise themselves and form leadership committees from the village level up to the national level.

Speaking at the same event, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Sekai Nzenza said Government is committed to fulfilling, promoting and protecting the rights of the disabled.

In an interview, Mr Timothy Mudarikwa director of Zimbabwe Association of the Visual Handicapped said: “We have seen the First Lady doing a lot for the vulnerable community and as the disabled, we were also yearning for her attention. Today she has brought us together and adopted us as her children. We are rest assured that our issues will be heard.”

Director of Kukura Neshungu School of the Disabled Ms Tabeth Sibanda added: “Let us have common ground on communication so that our groups work in synergy and speak with one voice.”

Meanwhile, the First Lady is set to tour rural health centres in Matabeleland South Province tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.

She will also visit Nugget Mine in Matobo where five miners died after a tunnel collapsed. 

In an interview, Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube said the First Lady was set to tour Hlangano Clinic in Umzingwane and Natisa Clinic in Matobo on Friday and attend a Family Fun Day to be held at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda on Saturday.

Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Matabeleland South Provincial deputy director Mr Elphas Siziba said there were a number of sporting activities that were lined up for the Fun Day to be held on Saturday. He said the event would provide an opportunity for women and young girls to interact with the First Lady and for her to see them through sports. Herald

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