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Breaking barriers: Advocating disability inclusivity -Newsday … – NewsDay

PWDDs face numerous barriers in local communities as they go about their work. These challenges dffer depending on the specific disability and the level of accessibility and inclusivity within the community.

AMID the tumultuous waves and hullabaloo crashing upon our nation, it becomes all too easy to overlook the voices of those who are often stigmatised and marginalised — persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs).

Yet, now more than ever, there is need to recognise the urgency of aligning disability inclusivity and management advocacy efforts with national level changes.

It is about time to shed light on the barriers and struggles faced by this sidelined community and embark on a journey towards a more inclusive and equitable society.

PWDDs face numerous barriers in local communities as they go about their work. These challenges dffer depending on the specific disability and the level of accessibility and inclusivity within the community.

Many local communities lack adequate accessible infrastructure, making it difficult for PWDDs to navigate public spaces, buildings, and transportation systems.

The absence of ramps, elevators, accessible toilets, and appropriate signage, for instance, create significant barriers to their mobility and participation in the workforce.

PWDDs often face discrimination and stigma in the workplace, hindering their opportunities for employment and career advancement.

Negative stereotypes and misconceptions about their abilities lead to exclusion and limited job prospects, perpetuating a cycle of marginalisation.

Many times, PWDDs encounter limited employment opportunities and face higher rates of unemployment or underemployment compared to their non-disabled counterparts.

Employers become hesitant to provide reasonable accommodations or adapt their workplaces to meet the needs of employees with disabilities, further exacerbating the lack of inclusive employment practices.

Nationally and globally, statistics for full employment or underemployment for PWDDs vary across communities, and it is critical to consider that disability is a diverse category encompassing various impairments and conditions.

The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency notes that about 900 000 to 1,4 million people are disabled in Zimbabwe.

According to a recent study by the National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped, from these official figures, only 2% of PWDDs are employed in the public sector, and overall, less than 7% are in employment.

A further 8% are vendors, while 29% are involved in farming activities for subsistence. Nineteen percent are said to be studying.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that globally, the employment rate for PWDDs is significantly lower than the average employment rate.

However, precise global statistics are challenging to obtain due to variations in disability definitions, data collection methodologies, and reporting practices across countries.

Experts assert that regarding underemployment, limited data is available on a global scale.

However, underemployment is a common issue for PWDDs, as they struggle to find suitable jobs that match their skills and qualifications, leading to employment that does not fully utilise their abilities.

It is also critically important to note that the employment and underemployment rates for PWDDs vary widely depending on factors such as the level of disability-inclusive policies, accessibility measures, educational opportunities, and societal attitudes towards disability within each country or region.

Further, PWDDs face challenges in accessing support services, such as assistive devices, sign language interpreters, or personal assistants, which are limited or non-existent in many local communities.

This lack of support hinders PWDDs in effectively carrying out their work and participating fully and effectively in the workforce.

Access to quality education and training programmes are also a significant challenge for PWDDs.

Limited availability of inclusive educational institutions, lack of accessible teaching materials, and insufficient support for students with disabilities hinder their learning opportunities and future employability.

PWDDs often experience social isolation and exclusion, both in the workplace and within their local communities. Prejudice and lack of awareness lead to social barriers, making it difficult for them to build relationships and engage in community activities.

Many PWDDs face financial constraints due to additional expenses related to their disability, such as medical costs, assistive devices, or specialised transportation.

These financial burdens can further limit their ability to access education, training, or employment opportunities.

Against this backdrop, addressing these barriers and statistics require collaborative efforts from multiple stakeholders, including governments, employers, community organisations, and society.

It is crucial to promote disability-inclusive policies, raise awareness, and actively work towards creating supportive environments that enable PWDDs to fully participate in the workforce and local communities.

At this juncture, this opinion piece delves into the critical importance of strategic planning and effective communication strategies as advocacy in amplifying the voices of PWDDs and fostering meaningful change at every level of governance.

In aligning this special type of advocacy with national level changes, key considerations are needed, such as understanding the policy landscape, that is, national policies, legislation and frameworks related to disability inclusion and management.

In addition, there is need to identify key decision-makers and stakeholders involved in shaping and implementing these policies; analyse the existing gaps, challenges, and opportunities within the policy landscape to inform the advocacy strategy.

Coalition building and partnerships

There is need to form alliances and partnerships with disability-focused organisations, civil society groups, and other stakeholders to amplify advocacy efforts.

Collaborate with organisations working on related issues and seek opportunities for joint advocacy initiatives.

A united front strengthens advocacy messages, increase collective influence, and demonstrate broad-based support for disability inclusive and management policy changes.

Framing and messaging

Craft compelling messages that resonate with decision-makers and align with national priorities.

Highlight the social and economic benefits of disability inclusion and effective management practices.

Emphasise the rights-based approach and the importance of equal opportunities, accessibility, and participation for PWDDs.

Messages should be tailored to the specific concerns and priorities of government ministries, legislators, and technocrats, demonstrating how advocacy efforts align with their portfolios and the overall national agenda.

Engaging decision-makers

There is need to develop a targeted engagement plan to interact with decision-makers.

Request meetings, submit policy briefs, and participate in relevant policy forums, committees, or consultations. Clearly articulate advocacy goals and proposed policy changes.

Analysts note that it is important to share evidence-based research, data, and success stories that demonstrate the positive impact of disability inclusive and management practices.

Establishing personal connections, building relationships, and maintaining open lines of communication to effectively convey messages and influence decision-making processes, are equally crucial.

Leveraging media and public engagement

Media experts point out that utilising media and public engagement strategies to raise awareness, generate public support, and influence national level changes should be highly considered.

Engage with journalists and media outlets to secure media coverage of disability-related issues, highlighting success stories, challenges, and the need for policy reforms.

Leverage on social media platforms, online campaigns, and public events to engage the public, foster dialogue, and build a broader movement for disability inclusion and management.

Public support and awareness exert pressure on decision-makers and increase the likelihood of policy changes.

Sustainable engagement

It is also worth to observe that advocacy for disability inclusive and management policy changes is an ongoing process.

Maintain a long-term commitment to the cause as policy changes often require sustained advocacy efforts.

Continuously adapt strategies based on evolving political and social contexts.

Staying informed about national and international developments related to disability rights and management practices cannot be over-emphasised.

Engage in continuous learning, capacity building, and knowledge sharing to strengthen advocacy efforts.

Monitoring, evaluation, and accountability

Implement robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the impact of advocacy efforts.

Monitor policy developments, legislative changes, and implementation of disability inclusive and management practices.

Evaluate the effectiveness and reach of advocacy activities, including media coverage, public engagement, and policy outcomes.

Regularly communicate progress and achievements to stakeholders, ensuring transparency and accountability while demonstrating the value of advocacy work.

Policy research and analysis

There is need, furthermore, to conduct thorough research and analysis of relevant policies, legislation, and government priorities, understanding the political landscape, knowing key decision-makers, and the power dynamics.

This information will help identify opportunities for advocacy and aligning messaging with the government agenda.

By carefully considering these key aspects, disability inclusive and management advocacy efforts can be effectively aligned with national level changes.

This strategic approach increases the likelihood of influencing policies, legislation and practices that promote disability inclusion and effective management in society.

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Breaking news – Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, [email protected]

INSIZA Rural District Council has joined hands with residents to construct Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town, which has brought relief to the local community.

The project was initiated by the community and the council chipped in with support for the project using devolution funds.

The school opened its doors to learners last year starting with ECD A to Grade 3  learners. 

The council used devolution funds to build two classroom blocks while the community mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block. 

Parents are targeting to build a classroom block each year so that the school can introduce the next grade every year.

In an interview, Insiza Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Shepard Tshuma, said the new school has come in handy to decongest the other two schools in Filabusi Town.

“The devolution fund has come in handy for us as a local authority in improving education sector. In 2019 we came in and assisted in constructing Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town. 

“We assisted by constructing two classroom blocks. The community didn’t sit down and watch but they also mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block,” said Mr Tshuma.

“Now the school houses ECD A to Grade three learners. The plan is to have a classroom block each year so that the school can accommodate children who will be going to the next grade.

“The school has helped to decongest Filabusi Government Primary and Marvel Primary School. At Filabusi Government we had 23 classes but with only nine classrooms. This meant that some pupils were learning in the open space.”

Mr Tshuma said they also used devolution funds to erect a perimeter fence at the school, build an administration block, and buy furniture for the school.

He said devolution funds will be used to build cottages at the school and a computer laboratory while the local authority will, starting next year, use devolution funds to promote the teaching of science subjects in schools. 

Mr Tshuma said this will help to ensure that local schools churn out learners who can enrol at the Gwanda State University. He commended the community for supporting the construction of Bekezela Primary School saying such commitment from parents was necessary for bringing about the necessary development in communities.

Bekezela Primary School Development Committee chairperson, Mr Pilate Siziba said the school has brought relief to their children as some had to walk up to five kilometres.

“Besides learners being congested at the two other schools, children used to walk up to five kilometres to get to school. Some of them were passing through a bushy area, which is very risky for primary learners,” he said. 

“As a community, we realised that we didn’t have to wait on Government to provide everything but we also had to initiate our own development. We are now targeting to start construction of a four-classroom block. We thank the Government and council for their intervention through the devolution fund,” he said.

Insiza RDC has used devolution funds to tackle four key thematic areas in the district namely education, machinery and equipment, infrastructure, and health.

The council has so far received $717 million out of its yearly allocation of $1,5 billion. Some of the projects that have been done include the purchase of a motorised grader, which upon being delivered will see an acceleration in the road maintenance works in the district.

Other projects that have been implemented using devolution funds include the construction of an ECD classroom block at Artherstone Primary School, completion of Sukasihambe Primary School, construction of a Science laboratory at Lubuze Secondary School among other projects, completion of Mbondo Clinic and equipping Montrose Clinic.

Devolution funds are assisting local authorities in fulfilling their obligation of ensuring improved access to social amenities across the country through the development of key infrastructure such as clinics, classroom blocks, roads, and bridges among other facilities.

Social amenities and infrastructure development are some of the major pillars of the National Development Strategy (NDS1). — @DubeMatutu

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High Court overturns Sikhala’s conviction in obstruction of justice case

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By Mary Taruvinga

The High Court has acquitted former opposition MP Job Sikhala in a case he was accused of obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly announced that a Zanu PF activist had murdered Moreblessing Ali.

The State alleged that he posted a video that was intended to mislead the police who were investigating the death of Ali whose body was found dismembered.

Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero sitting as an appeal court ruled that magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa erred when she convicted Sikhala in May this year.

They quashed the lower court’s conviction ordering that the politician be found “not guilty and acquitted.”

Sikhala will however remain in detention as he is on trial on additional charges including incitement to commit violence, and disorderly conduct.

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Unlocking the power of disability inclusion for healthier, sustainable communities – NewsDay

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

IN the face of pressing social, health and environmental crises, such as climate change, infrastructure deterioration, and rapid urbanisation, it is essential to recognise the potential of disability inclusion and management as a catalyst for creating healthier and sustainable communities.

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

This opinion piece aims to highlight the critical importance of generating evidence-based reports laden with issues that advocate timely and regular improvements in policies and infrastructural development to foster a more inclusive society.

Climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and rapid urbanisation are prevailing phenomena that are presenting significant obstacles to populations, inclusive of PWDDs through increased vulnerability, health risks and inaccessible adaptation measures.

Climate change-related events such as extreme weather events, heatwaves and floods, much as they affect the majority population, they too, disproportionately affect PWDDs, who face challenges in skin infections, evacuations or finding safe shelter.

Climate change has a pronounced impact on the health of PWDDs, particularly those with respiratory diseases or heat sensitivity.

It is associated with a rise in air pollution due to factors like wildfires, increased dust storms and industrial emissions.

This can worsen respiratory conditions among individuals with disabilities, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease leading to more frequent and severe symptoms.

Heat-related respiratory distress through rising temperatures and heatwaves can trigger respiratory distress or exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Further, high heat and humidity can make it more challenging for individuals with respiratory disabilities to breathe, leading to increased discomfort, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can have severe health consequences.

Medical experts are increasingly advocating for the implementation of climate-responsive health policies to address the intersection of climate change and public health.

These policies aim to proactively address the health impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, inclusive of PWDDs.

Integrating climatic considerations into healthcare systems, promoting awareness and implementing preventive measures, these policies can enhance preparedness, reduce health risks and foster resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Experts observe that heat mitigation strategies such as the provision of cooling centres by ensuring access to shade and hydration are important; as they reduce the impact of high temperatures on individuals with heat sensitivity.

Public awareness campaigns can educate PWDDs, their caregivers, and healthcare providers about the specific risks and preventive measures related to respiratory diseases and heat sensitivity.

By recognising and addressing the unique vulnerabilities of PWDDs to climate change, policymakers and healthcare professionals can develop targeted interventions and adaptations.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an international treaty that promotes and protects the rights of persons with disabilities.

It is closely linked to the sustainable development goals as it aligns with the goal of leaving no one behind and achieving inclusive and sustainable development for all.

In view of this international convention, there is need to desist from developing inaccessible adaptation measures by policymakers through developing climate adaptation measures, such as the construction of barriers or relocation efforts, that do not consider the specific needs of PWDDs, leaving them more vulnerable and marginalised.

Zimbabwe’s disability laws and policies have shown progress in promoting the rights of PWDDs. The country has ratified the UNCRPD and enacted the Disabled Persons Act, the disability policy is also available, which recognises the rights of PWDDs.

However, challenges remain, including limited accessibility, inadequate implementation and gaps in social inclusion.

Further efforts are needed to ensure effective implementation and meaningful inclusion and empowerment of PWDDs in all spheres of society, aligning with the goals of SDGs.

The devastating Cyclone Idai of March 2019 serves as a stark reminder of the importance of considering the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in climate adaptation measures.

In the aftermath of the cyclone, it became evident that many of the relief efforts and infrastructure rebuilding initiatives did not adequately address the accessibility requirements of PWDDs.

This oversight left them even more vulnerable and marginalised, facing immense challenges in accessing essential services, emergency shelters and healthcare.

The experiences from Cyclone Idai emphasise the critical need for policymakers to prioritise inclusive planning and ensure that climate adaptation measures are designed to be accessible and inclusive for all, including PWDDs.

Deteriorating infrastructure everywhere, marked by gaping potholes, uncollected and unsightly dumpsites along major roads, broken sidewalks, lack of ramps at public and private institutions and inaccessible public transportation, all hinder the mobility and independence of travelling populations inclusive of PWDDs,

Shifting perceptions: From risk to resource

Disability inclusion requires a significant shift in societal perceptions, moving away from viewing disabilities as solely health or environmental risks. Instead, PWDDs should be recognised as valuable contributors and agents of change.

By embracing their skills, talents, and experiences, we can tap into a vast pool of untapped potential, fostering creativity, innovation and resilience within communities.

Creating accessible infrastructure

One crucial aspect of promoting disability inclusion is the creation of inclusive and accessible infrastructure. This includes accessible transportation, public spaces, buildings and information and communication technologies.

By implementing universal design principles, policymakers can ensure that infrastructure is usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. This not only benefit PWDDs, but it also improves the overall liveability and functionality of communities.

Employment and economic empowerment

Creating inclusive employment opportunities is vital for economic transformation and social inclusion.

Policies should be enhanced to promote equal access to education, vocational training and job opportunities for PWDDs.

By recognising their skills and providing necessary accommodations, employers can tap into a diverse talent pool, fostering productivity and innovation. This, in turn, contributes to the economic growth and social cohesion of communities.

Health and well-being

Access to quality healthcare services and inclusive health policies are fundamental for the well-being of PWDDs. It is crucial to address barriers to healthcare, such as physical accessibility, communication, and stigma.

Additionally, targeted interventions and awareness campaigns can promote early detection, prevention, and treatment of disabilities, contributing to better health outcomes for PWDDs and the broader community.

Disaster preparedness and climate resilience

In the face of climate change and environmental risks, it is essential to consider the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in disaster preparedness and climate resilience strategies.

This includes accessible evacuation plans, early warning systems, and ensuring that shelters and relief efforts are inclusive.

By prioritising the inclusion of PWDDs in climate action plans, policymakers can build more resilient and adaptive communities.

Education and awareness

Promoting inclusive education and raising awareness about disability rights and inclusion are crucial components of transformative change.

By fostering inclusive educational environments at all levels, policymakers can empower PWDDs with the knowledge and skills to actively participate in society.

Additionally, awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes, reduce discrimination and foster a culture of inclusivity.


In the face of community social, health and environmental crises, disability inclusion and management hold immense potential for transforming challenges into opportunities.

By reframing and rethinking disability as a resource and embracing the diverse abilities and contributions of PWDDs, Zimbabwe can create healthier and sustainable communities.

Timely improvements in policies and infrastructure, encompassing accessible infrastructure, inclusive employment, healthcare services, climate resilience and education, are vital for realising this vision.

It is imperative for policymakers to prioritise disability inclusion and work collaboratively with stakeholders and PWDDs to create a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of their abilities.

By doing so, Zimbabwe can lead the way towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.

Tonderayi Matonho is a journalist exploring disability inclusivity, participation, integration and management debate across communities. He can be reached at 263-777 052 658, Email: [email protected].

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