Working Group on Disability commits to inclusion and access
President Cyril Ramaphosa has committed government to joining the disability sector of South Africa on a journey towards the full empowerment of people with disabilities.
The President gave this commitment at the end of a meeting of the Presidential Working Group on Disability in Pretoria today, Tuesday 26 February 2019. This was the first Presidential Working Group to meet following the State of the Nation Address which the President delivered to a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday, 7 February.
In addition, the President committed government departments to the inclusion of people with disabilities within their respective mandates and called for similar commitment on the part of the private sector.
President Ramaphosa was joined at the meeting by Minister of Transport, Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Adv Michael Masutha, Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Dr Chana Pilane-Majake. Several Directors-General attended as well.
Disability sector organisations represented at today’s meeting included Action in Autism, Epilepsy South Africa, the Association of Hearing Loss Accessibility and Development; Disability Workshop Development Enterprise; Deaf Federation of South Africa; Africa Disability Alliance; the Black Management Forum; the Albinism Society of South Africa; the Paralympic Committee; Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) South Africa; Down Syndrome South Africa; Disabled People South Africa.
Other stakeholders were: Albinism Society of South Africa; Institute for the Promotion of Disabled Manpower; Disabled Children Action Group; South African Federation for Mental Health; Kgalagadi People with Disabilities; Disabled Women South Africa; Disability Empowerment Concerns Trust; Disability Association for South African National Military Veterans; Deaf Empowerment Firm; BlindSA; the South African Deaf Youth Development Project; the National Association of Persons with Cerebral Palsy; the SA National Association of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons; disability veteran Ms Washiela Sait; QuadPara Association of South Africa; Global Mental Health Peer Review Network, and the South Africa Disability Development Trust.
Disability sector delegates highlighted five overarching goals for the attention and action of the Presidential Working Group on Disability.
- Location of government’s Office of Disability within the Presidency as part of the reconfiguration of government;
- The adoption of South African Sign Language as the 12th official language;
- The domestication of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the effect that all legislation and the whole of government should mainstream disability;
- The resourcing, from the fiscus and other sources, of programmes that support people with disabilities, and
- Support for vulnerable groups and strengthening of the criminal justice system to end victimisation of people with disability.
President Ramaphosa commended the sector on the clarity of depth of the various concerns and proposals tabled at the Working Group.
Among issues raised were local production of assistive devices for people with disabilities; the development of early childhood development facilities for children with disability, and the need for change in societal attitudes to people with albinism and the ending of violence – including murder – against people with albinism.
President Ramaphosa said the Working Group would process the proposals made through a number of technical committees that would be focused on securing implementation of the proposed actions.
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