Vengai Kurunzirwa and Masvingo District Administrator (DA) Roy Hove at the meeting
MASVINGO – People living with disabilities must stand up tall and take all the opportunities that are available with the knowledge that traditional leaders and the constitution are by their side, chiefs from Masvingo province have said.
They were speaking at an engagement meeting recently organised by Masvingo Young Voices, an organisation which seeks to advance the welfare and rights of people living with disabilities.
Topics that were discussed included disability vis-à-vis such issues as land, education, marriage rights, accessibility of public places, and employment.
An aide to Chief Charumbira, James Mazvidza said people living with disabilities needed not wallow in self-pity but should stand up and claim the same rights as everybody else because they were no lesser citizens.
"People living with any form of disability must know that they too are created in the image of God and must therefore stand up with confidence. Musapfeka zviso zvekuhwisa tsitsi. Zvasiyana nekare kwainzi kana mai vakazvara chirema vainzi durai zvamakaita.
"As traditional leaders, we are fully aware of the challenges faced by people living with disabilities and they have our support. Every village head is obliged to keep record of people with disabilities in his village so that their needs are properly handled should there be any social-uplifting programme from the government," said Mazvidza.
Chief Murinye, on the other hand, spoke on the issue of people living with disabilities being denied access to land saying the Lands ministry was responsible for land allocations but traditional leaders should always be ready to assist.
"If you feel a village head has violated your right to agricultural land, you have to take action and approach higher authorities. Nobody should be deprived of the right to earn a living simply because they are living with a disability. The chiefs are there to help protect your rights," said Chief Murinye.
Simbarashe Makazhe, a Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) student who relies on the services of a wheelchair to move about, said though progress had been made, much more still needs to be done to defeat discrimination.
"It begins at a personal level; the attitudes that we have and the language we choose to use every day. Why not shun such retrogressive terms as chirema icho, bofu iro, mbeveve iyo?
"We also want an inclusive social arrangement whereby no institutions or facilities are built exclusively for us, we want inclusive schools so as to fight stereotypes," said Makazhe.local