Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) have castigated the budget consultation process for not being inclusive of their needs pointing to the lack of requisite materials conducive for their participation.
Parliament through its various portfolio committees have been conducting a series of meetings across the country, consulting with all stakeholders in the formulation of the 2021 national budget.
However, persons with disabilities feel the process has been discriminatory.
“The budget consultations have not been user-friendly for persons with disability,” Henry Kani, an activist for the rights of people with disability told 263Chat.
“It’s not very conducive. They do not have interpreters in sign language and they even produced a booklet. That booklet is not in braille so it’s a barrier for people who are blind and with hearing impairment and the setup which was there did not favor people on wheel chairs,” he added.
At these consultative meetings there is hardly a sign language interpreter to assist the deaf or literature in braille to assist the blind.
The lack of this inclusive material has limited the participation of PWDs in the budget consultation process.
But the discrimination at these meetings mirrors the day to day challenges people with disability encounter on a daily basis.
Recently there have been calls for authorities to provide an inclusive public transport system cognizant of the needs of persons with disabilities.
In most cases, people who use wheel chairs do not receive preference at Zupco queues making life difficult for them.
Meanwhile, at the 2021 budget consultations held so far, PWDs have been calling for government intervention to improve access to hearing aids and other similar materials inclusive to their various needs.
Speaking at a recent budget consultation meeting held at Ambassador Hotel in Harare one participant; Doreen Muzhindu said putting a subsidy on the price of hearing aids could be a better way to reduce the cost burden.
“We are saying government should look into the issues of hearing aids. They are too expensive hence we ask if it’s possible that they can be subsidized or even be given for free,” she said.
Over the years, government has not improved spending on the Health sector and more so on support to PWDs.
“We want a return of the health grant for local authorities. It has since stopped so it’s one area we want revived. There is also the need to enhance social protection. There have been putting something less than 1 percent of the national budget. It’s not something sustainable,” Kani added.