Advocates and representatives of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have called for the urgent need for the 2024 national budget to be socially inclusive and pro-disability.
Speaking at a national budget engagement meeting held in Harare on Tuesday stakeholders raised concerns about the current budget allocation and its inadequacy in meeting the financial needs of programs for PWDs.
Chengetai Kanyangu, the programs manager at the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST) called for immediate action to ensure that available resources are allocated to benefit PWDs and contribute to their inclusion in the nation’s economy and development.
“It is critical for the budget to be socially inclusive hence the meeting today where persons with disability are bringing out their issues and identifying how the 2024 budget can be more pro-disability and inclusive in terms of all issues affecting Persons with Disability. There are still elements of exclusion that have been raised in terms of allocation of resources in the national budget as it has not adequately provided the financial needs for programming for PWDs and there are several reasons for that.
“Whilst we are aware that there are limited resources in our nation perhaps part of the challenge could be prioritization of the existing resources The call to action is resources and whatever is available should take into account PWDs and be able to allow them to be more inclusive in the whole economy and development of the nation,” said Kanyangu
Taurai Chako, the lead consultant with Disabilities and Development Pathways, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the profound repercussions of exclusion.
“Exclusion creates more costs than inclusion, it is very less costly to include Persons with Disabilities it is a price to the national budgeting process. The exclusion has a great impact in terms of access to education, access to basic health and welfare and social security. They cannot contribute to the national budget processes and they end up getting into poverty and deprivation of their dignity,” Chako said
Tendai Dondofema, a social worker with the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, stressed the importance of equality and accessibility for all citizens, including those with disabilities.
“Inclusion is very important for people living with disabilities. There is a need for equality especially public centers that cater, for example, deaf people. There is a need for a budget for sign language interpreters for deaf people in places like hospitals,” Dondofema said
Disability advocacy group, Signs of Hope Trust director Samantha Sibanda added her voice saying there is need for multi stakeholder approach.
“There is a lot that needs to be done including engaging line ministries and the private sector on issues to do with inclusion so that we have an empowered citizens with disabilities. There has to be more allocation for social security. The budget should be a one size fit all,” said Sibanda