The Sunday Mail
Dr. Christine Peta
IN this article, I unpack Section 3.2 of the National Disability Policy which was launched by President Mnangagwa on June 9, 2021.
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, led by Honourable Minister Professor Paul Mavima, oversees the implementation of the National Disability Policy, thus moving the provisions of the policy from paper to the real world to make a positive difference in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Below is an outline of the tenets of Section 3.2 (Economic Empowerment and Self-Reliance) of the National Disability Policy.
3.2.1.Discrimination against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability in all matters concerning all forms of employment, including recruitment, hiring and employment, retention, career advancement and safety and health conditions is prohibited.
3.2.2 A minimum of 15 percent of the workforce of all organisations across all sectors must comprise persons with disabilities.
3.2.3 Persons with disabilities must be employed on the basis of skills, merits, qualifications, knowledge and abilities, and not just on the basis of disability.
3.2.4 Reasonable accommodation [as defined at the end of this article] must be provided to persons with disabilities.
3.2.5 Persons with disabilities must have access to information on the provision of reasonable accommodation and the process of requesting it (including at the recruitment phase).
3.2.6 Workplace adjustments must be made available to all persons including persons with disabilities.
3.2.7 Appropriate technical and vocational guidance, training and continuing professional development must be provided to persons with disabilities.
3.2.8 The principle of equal pay for work of equal value must be applied — remuneration should not be differentiated on the basis of disability.
3.2.9 Employers must promote the provision of accessible organisation transport to enable easier travel of persons with disabilities to and from work.
3.2.10 Discrimination of persons with disabilities who acquire disabilities in the course of their employment is prohibited.
3.2.11 If persons with disabilities can no longer perform essential job duties, they must be redeployed to other positions in the same organisation, unless they make other choices that may include an exit package, which must be negotiated with the concerned person.
3.2.12 Persons with disabilities must have access to vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention, and return-to-work programmes.
3.2.13 Structures that address disability related issues including employment issues, in each of the 10 provinces of Zimbabwe, must be set up.
3.2.14 Persons with disabilities shall not be held in slavery or be forced to work — they shall be protected from forced labour or compulsory labour on an equal basis with others.
3.2.15 Persons with disabilities and their families must be empowered so that they use various resources including local resources to effectively and efficiently uplift their own standard of living as well as contribute towards the mainstream national development agenda.
3.2.16 Unity through the building of alliances between persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities must be promoted, so that people work together to improve standards of living.
3.2.17 Opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, development of co-operatives and acquisition of funding by persons with disabilities must be created.
3.2.18 Disability must be main streamed in micro-finance facilities and services, thereby encouraging persons with disabilities and their families to engage in various investment programmes.
3.2.19 Appropriate and effective measures must be taken to eliminate provisions and practices which restrict or deny persons with disabilities control of their own financial affairs — ensure and enable equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit.
3.2.20 Conditions of providing financing must take cognisance of the fact that persons with disabilities are generally poor, hence they may not have assets to provide as collateral.
3.2.21 Foster economic empowerment and self-reliance through incentives, tax exemptions, excise duty exemptions, procurement of goods and services from enterprises of persons with disabilities by various stakeholders including Government entities.
3.2.22 The inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities in all sectors, including in land and mining reforms must be ensured.
3.2.23 Disaggregated data about the employment of persons with disabilities by all sectors, must be submitted to the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, in November of each year, to enable consolidation of statistics in the national disability database.
3.2.24 Privacy and confidentiality of employment data concerning persons with disabilities, must be upheld by all sectors.
3.2.25 Persons with disabilities must be enabled to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others.
3.2.26 The employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector must be promoted through affirmative action and incentives.
3.2.27 All disability capacity building programmes within the context of employment must be approved on an ongoing basis by the Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
So what does it all mean?
The provisions of Section 3.2 of the National Disability Policy (Economic Empowerment and Self-Reliance) mean that the national disability agenda is grounded in a human rights approach which regards persons with disabilities as rights-holders, including in the arena of employment and self-reliance and not as sick passive persons (medical model) or good for nothing people that should just sit around and wait to receive donations from well-wishers (charity model).
We, therefore, all need to promote and respect the inherent dignity and capabilities of persons with disabilities.
We all need to contribute towards the empowerment of persons with disabilities so that they can be able to fend for themselves and their families, as well as to contribute towards the development of our nation in accordance with the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025) and not to wholly depend on charity.
Note: Reasonable accommodation means necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments not imposing disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case to ensure that persons with disabilities have the enjoyment of, or exercise on an equal basis with others, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Dr. Christine Peta is a disability, policy, international development and research expert who is the national director of disability affairs in Zimbabwe — she can be contacted on: [email protected]