Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

South Africa disability Movement Accuses Government of Lack of Seriousness

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23 May, 2020

On 23 May 2020, The Citizen of South Africa covered a story that featured the disability movement in the country accusing the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities as being out of touch and “not serious about issues faced by people with disabilities.”

The complaints came against the background that the department’s disability unit was staffed by only three people.

According to the online newspaper, a consultative forum of national disability organisations expressed shock and disappointment at the outcome of Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s promise, made through a webinar, to improve and uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in the country.

A member of the national disability grouping, Jace Nair of Blind SA, was quoted as saying the webinar engagement failed to respond to effects of the virus on people living with disabilities, especially lamenting the “fragmented and uncoordinated” approach by government on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities and the lack of adequate consultation with the disability sector.

It was noted that people with disabilities were excluded from receiving essentials and food packs from government distribution agencies during the Covid-19 crisis due to receiving disability grants.

“Blind and partially sighted entrepreneurs and workers from sheltered and protective workshops are not able to produce their products and sell them to earn a small income,” Nair told The Citizen.

Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (in the picture), is said to have been slammed by the disability grouping during the webinar, weeks after she announced that people with disabilities should receive food parcels.

The participants of the webinar lamented that sadly this was not happening, claiming Nkoana-Mashabane was so out of touch with reality.

“Our expectations were not met. It is like when you are hungry and are promised food, but the food is never delivered,” another participant, Marina Clark, is quoted as saying.

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