The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is calling for physical representation of Persons with Disabilities in various national governance structures in order to give them a sense of belonging and to also promote an inclusive system of governance for sustainable development.
During the implementation of a Project on Empowering Vulnerable Groups to claim their rights since 2016, the Commission has received complaints from Persons with Disabilities countrywide that they felt neglected and marginalised in matters of governance and were calling for an inclusive system of governance that represented their unique needs and interests.
One of the recommendations towards achieving inclusion of Persons With Disabilities in governance was that anyone exercising their powers under Article 69 of the Constitution of Zambia [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016, which empowers a President to nominate eight (8) Members of Parliament to enhance representation of special interests, skills or gender should ensure that at least one Person with Disability was nominated to Parliament and subsequently appointed as Cabinet Minister. It was further submitted that there was need to adhere to Article 259 of the Constitution of Zambia [Amendment] Act No. 2 of 2016, which obliges anyone empowered to make nominations and appointments to a public office to ensure that Persons with Disabilities were equitably represented provided they qualified to be appointed as such.
Persons with Disabilities have submitted to the Commission that as a result of the absence of Persons with Disabilities in various governance structures such as Councils, National Assembly and Cabinet, they felt that their challenges were not being adequately reflected in national planning and budgeting processes. They, therefore, had no sense of belonging to the governance system because they did not think and believe that it was inclusive and democratic.
The Commission strongly supports the view that Persons with Disabilities constituted a critical population of Zambia and must, just like any other groupings such as women and youths, not be left behind in the national socio-economic and political development processes. There is need for the government to take extra-ordinary measures to accommodate and meet the unique situations of Persons with Disabilities who constitute one of the most vulnerable groups. The country has an obligation to respect the view of Persons with Disabilities that “Nothing about us without us”, because they know what is best for them in relation to alleviating their vulnerability and poverty
The Commission is encouraged that the Seven National Development Plan (7NDP) being implemented from 2017 to 2021 is anchored on the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a rallying theme of “Leave No One Behind” aimed at promoting inclusive and sustainable development. To this end, the Commission is calling for deliberate efforts aimed at ensuring that Persons with Disabilities are physically represented in Districts, Provincial and National Development Co-ordinating Committees as well as in the various Technical Working Groups and Cluster Advisory Groups aimed at facilitating effective implementation of the 7NDP.
The Commission is also calling for effective and continuous enforcement of the Persons with Disabilities Act No. 6 of 2012 and full implementation of the 2015 National Policy on Disability in line with the national aspirations and meeting the national obligations under the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Zambia ratified in 2010.
Further, the country must continue refining and strengthening the various social protection and empowerment programmes to ensure that Persons with Disabilities were adequately benefiting and empowered to live independently as equal members of society.
[The Human Rights Commission is a National Human Rights Institution established under Article 230 of the Constitution of Zambian (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 to promote and protect Human Rights in Zambia]
Mweelwa Muleya (+260 977 871207)
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION