Zimbabwe is reviewing its National Disability Bill in the bid to align it with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the country ratified about a decade ago.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
This was said during a validation of the policy lab model for Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) workshop ending tomorrow.
UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa Director and Representative Professor Lidia Arthur Brito said the workshop comes at the nick of time following the launch of the National Disability Policy last year which was officiated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Dear participants, as you are aware, the Government of Zimbabwe successfully launched the National Disability Policy in June 2021 and currently in the process of reviewing the Disability Bill so it aligns to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. So, we do have legislative processes in process and therefore we feel that this workshop is very timely. This processes of future development of reviewing pieces of legislation are not to be missed by persons with disabilities,” she said.
She also said Zimbabwe is among 26 countries implementing the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF).
“Currently Zimbabwe is among one of the 26 countries selected globally to implement the UNPRPD. In our case it is really concentrating on strengthening disability rights, accountability, governance and coordination in Zimbabwe. This is a two-year program. We started at the end of 2021. We still have 2023 to implement many of the activities in the project but we are of course hoping that this project will allow to go further and continue to work with organisations of people with disability in Zimbabwe,” Prof. Brito said.
Prof. Brito said Zimbabwe’s experiences will be cascaded to other countries.
“And even from Zimbabwe, also reaching to other countries. In the region we also have a multi-country program that is starting. We have a program in Eswatini. But because it is in Zimbabwe, that we really started, I hope that all the learning and the knowledge production in Zimbabwe can then influence what we are doing in all the other countries,” she said.
She also bemoaned how lack of capacitation and resources for OPDs hinder their participation in high level policy decision making processes. The Policy Lab Model for OPDs is a tool for PWD to engage duty bearers, she said.
“We are also very thankful to colleagues in the work that manage the UNPRPD programs for the support they are giving in Zimbabwe and other countries in our region. Ladies and gentlemen, UNESCO ROSA is collaborating with the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) (NASCOH) and Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) umbrella bodies for persons with disability in building capacity for organisations for persons with persons with disabilities to effectively engage duty bearers in policy making processes.”
She added that the next step is to make sure that people with disabilities are part of the processes of legislation development processes and therefore guaranteeing that their voices, their needs and also their knowledge is embedded in the policies and legislation of the country.
“In this workshop, what we are testing and piloting is really to present this new policy lab model and hoping that in two days we can have the validation from your side and as part of a consultative process we have our main implementing partner that African Disability Alliance to finalise this too. We are hoping the experience in Zimbabwe will allow us to bring this to other countries in the region,” she said.
Zimbabwe National Commission for Unesco Secretary General Ms Margaret Chirapa said consultations were done with concerned parts in reviewing the National Disability Bill.
“As many of you are aware, the Government of Zimbabwe launched the national disability policy in June 2021 and is now in the process of reviewing the National Disability Bill of 1992 so that this key piece of legislation aligns with CRPD. I believe that some OPDs in this room were engaged in some disability bill processes,” she said.
“Moving forward after the finalization of this Policy Lab for OPDs that we are looking at over the next two days, we hope organisations of persons with disabilities will use this evidence based tool to engage with duty bearers.”