Govt Should Reposition Disability Charge

WE are greateful for the support we have received from our readers and as a centre for disability development research law and policy, we take readers’ comments and observations seriously.

We provided aice to Government through Emerine Kabanshi for the past two weeks, who is our new Minister at the Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health on how the Patriotic Front (PF) Government should reposition disability administration and make Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities useful to its target group.

I am happy to inform you that I had a fruitful meeting with Ms Kabanshi at her office at my request to share my little knowledge and experience in disability management and administration.

To start with, let me sincerely thank Ms Kabanshi for giving me an opportunity to share my thought on Zambia Agency for persons with disabilities and how best Government can change it to a more useful institution to serve the best interest of the disabled.

In my work as a disability rehabilitation expert, I have spoken to many ministers of Community Development in Africa and the world over but Ms Kabanshi has a passion and vision for the disabled and deserves our support regardless of our political or religious affiliation.

We shared many ideas and the best practice on how best the current challenges the agency was facing could be resolved and ensure that jobs are protected, not only for the disabled but, non-disabled workers in the Agency as well, I was shocked that Ms Kabanshi is among World leaders that believe in inclusive society where disabled people work in harmony with non-disabled.

As opposed to what other people are championing in Zambia that the agency is for the disabled, this is against the spirit of social integration and mainstreaming approach to disability issues around the world.

Let the disabled friends give the new minister time to settle, more especially that during our meeting, she said that she does not believe in making decisions from the information she has received, but would rather visit centers for the disabled and see what was on the ground.

She told me that she was aware of nice brushes which were made by Kang’onga Production Centre for the disabled in Ndola and had keen interest to know what could be done to revamp such programmes.

Similarly, she would like to see that the disabled people are kept busy within Government established centres.

Personally, I have confidence that disability management will change for better and farms for the disabled will be revamped, Government needs the support of our local and international donors more socially through the United Nations’ task force on disability which is a committee of UN Agencies working in the field of disability at national level.

I shared with the minister that with 17 farm centres for the disabled in Zambia, the agency could create 3910 jobs for the disabled and non-disabled within two years.

This, however, depends on Government cooperating partners to provide a one off seed fund of K15 million and hire qualified Zambians and non-Zambians to run farms in a more sustainable and professional manner.

This will mean that Luminu, Kambowa, Mitukutuku, Cottage and Luntebwe farms will have 245 workers each and the rest of the farms will share workers from 2685 according to size and activities that the agency would embark on.

For me, I said that the current self-restructuring programme was approved by the previous board but its implementation is not in line with the purpose and reasons for restructuring which must be checked and stopped.

If the agency was to deliver, I told the minister that Government must run the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disability (ZAPD) as a branch of Government and not as a movement of disabled people.

It should not be like was formed to champion disabled rights like Zambia Federation for Disability Organisations, Zambia National Federation for the Blind, Zambia National Association for the Deaf and many others.

The agency must and should be a Government-driven organisation with a coordination and promotion of habitation and rehabilitation service delivery though creation of employment with focus on job placement.

There is a need for Zambians to appreciate that ZAPD work in line with Government national and international disability agenda and disabled people’s Organisation work to supplement Government failures in service delivery to persons with disabilities.

During our meeting, I told the minister that this Government has fulfilled its promise to persons with disabilities as contained in the disability Chapter in its manifesto for 2011 to 2016 on its commitment to improve funding to the Agency.

It should also make the Agency responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities and the implementing agency which ZAPD must check if the Government vision to create society for all will be archived beyond 2016.

I mentioned to the minister that as centre for Disability Development Research Law and policy, it is within our mandate to provide open but credible aice to African Governments on disability administration.

The agency should also ensure that agencies of Government move within the vision of Government in the implementation policies and programmes aimed at improving service delivery to persons with disabilities.

For our minister to perform in line with the vision of PF Government and create projected jobs in farm centres there is need for support from local and international donors in the area of disability since Government already has demonstrated that it is committed to improving lives of the disabled people.

As I conclude, I want to sincerly appreciated Ms Kabanshi for according me an opportunity to discuss disability administration in general, It is my hope and prayer that one or two issues of what we discussed will be considered in future revival plans for the agency.

For your letters send to us on P.O. BOX 34490 Lusaka, Zambia or use our South African Address.

(The author is Regional Disability policy Analyst for SADC and Inclusive Development Aisor for Centre for Disability Development Research, Law and Policy, Johannesburg. Project Office, P.O. BOX 1981 New Castle, 2940 South Africa).

Tell:+27343127894

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E-mail: cm@cddrlp.net

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Source : The Times of Zambia

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