Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

Building DPOs Capacity in Promoting an Inclusive Legislative Environment

Organisational Development Project of DPOs in Swaziland

Project duration (total months):

12 Months (1 Year))




Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)


  1. Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)
  2. Federation Organization of the Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA)


The Federation Organization of the Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA), which is a national affiliate of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), will seek to collaborate with the latter in undertaking capacity-building activities to support Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) in advocating for the domestication of the Un Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and enactment of appropriate laws by December 2016.

This is on the basis that one of the mandates of FODSWA is to lobby Government, through its membership of DPOs nationwide, to implement existing pieces of national legislation and policies affecting Persons with Disabilities.

However, due to a number of institutional challenges ranging from leadership management crises to funding challenges, the federation scaled down its activities for several years, and its secretariat shut down. The institutional decline of FODSWA proved to be a huge blow to the disability movement and advocacy in the country as there was no longer a credible structure to coordinate the activities of DPOs as well as provide direction and capacity-building of DPOs in advocacy for disability rights, mainstreaming and overall inclusive development.

It is in this context that FODSWA will seek the support of its regional umbrella federation, SAFOD, to strengthen its institutional capacity and that of its member DPOs through the holding of the “Directors and Leaders Forum, and training workshops in governance and leadership management, advocacy and lobbying techniques; policy analysis; and monitoring of the UNCRPD and other relevant instruments.

The Directors and Leaders Forum will also aim to help deal with the prevailing leadership crisis alluded to above by bringing together all its member DPOs and other key stakeholders to candidly deliberate on governance challenges based on the Constitution of FODSWA, together make recommendations and find solutions. A communiqué may be issued at the end of the forum.

Summary Description

Strategic Goal:

To strengthen the institutional capacity of FODSWA and its member DPOs in Promoting an Inclusive Legislative Environment in Swaziland through sustained advocacy for the domestication of the UNCRPD and enactment of appropriate laws by December 2016

Strategic Objectives:

  1. To enhance the internal governance and leadership management within FODSWA structures through the leadership forum by October 2015
  2. To strengthen SAFOD affiliates’ good governance capacity to promote the rights of persons with disabilities on national level.
  3. To build the capacity of FODSWA and its affiliate DPOs in advocacy and lobbying techniques through training workshops, by December 2015;


Swaziland is one of the countries that have made significant progress in addressing issues that pertain to Persons with Disabilities. The Kingdom of Swaziland ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2012. The main aim of the Convention is to protect, promote and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all Persons with Disabilities and to promote of their inherent dignity.

Subsequent to ratification of the UNCRPD, a National Policy on Disability was developed, aimed at promoting the mainstreaming of disability issues across all development programs of Government. The policy also seeks to implement the provision of the Constitution of Swaziland which recognizes and articulates the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Section 31 of the Constitution explicitly relates to disability rights. The 2004 Swaziland Constitution provides protection for persons with disabilities and requires Parliament to enact relevant implementing legislation.

Despite this progress, Persons with Disability continue to be marginalized, discriminated against and socially excluded from mainstream activities. They have limited access to community services and opportunities available to non-disabled persons such as education, health employment, public facilities including buildings and transport. Consequently, Persons with Disabilities tend to be overrepresented amongst the unemployed, the poor and the uneducated; this has far-reaching consequences to the disabled persons at individual, family and societal levels.

Parliament has not passed laws to prohibit discrimination against Persons with Disabilities in employment, or to provide access to health care or other state services by the end of the year. Persons with Disabilities have complained of Government neglect. There are no laws that mandate accessibility for persons with disabilities to buildings, transportation, or Government services.

The situation has further been compounded by the fact that there is a weak disability movement in Swaziland that can stand up and advocate for the rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly lobbying for appropriate legislation the implementation thereof, as well as the domestication of the UNCRPD on the part of Government. Most Disability Peoples Organisations (DPOs) do not have institutional capacity to sustainably carry out projects and programs aimed at advocating for a conducive legislative environment in the country.

Most crucially, the declining capacity of the Federation of the Federation Organization of the Disabled People in Swaziland (FODSWA), the only non-state entity established to coordinate, capacitate, and provide a unified voice/platform for the DPOs in Swaziland, has even worsened the situation further. For example, of late the FODSWA National Executive Committee (NEC) has undergone a leadership crisis that has led to some NEC members expressing a Vote of No Confidence in their current President, thereby adversely affecting the federation’s capacity to effectively implement activities, mobilize resources, or fulfil its mandates.