Disabled still at others’ mercy

2015-07-29 06:00
Benedict Leteane Social Observer

Benedict Leteane Social Observer

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THE celebration of an International Day for Persons with Disability is nothing but political popularisation and a continuation of alienating or institutionalising disability by those who proclaim to be advocating for the emancipation of persons with disability. To these individuals a disability day is another project which enriches their popularity and money-making.

South African legislation and policies promulgate and underpin justice and equality within the country. Though these policies keep on being amended, the majority of us don’t experience the benefit from these improvements. I have attend numerous conferences, seminars, conventions and others under names which I believe some of the organisers of these events don’t even know the meaning of. The most devastating thing is that people with disability keep on raising issues regarding the challenges they face, but it falls on deaf ears.

Despite the Employment Equity Bill, when one looks at government departments there are over 100 vacancies, but we still have a high unemployment rate of disabled people. Could it be that the government lacks monitoring and evaluation, or are they not interested? November and December are the only times they feel like talking to us. Making empty promises as usual.

Non-governmental organisations which support or provide advocacy for people with disability continue to institutionalise disabled people. However, because this is their means of survival, one can understand. My only concern is that they continue to alienate us from society. In most cases, their availability limits our liberation.

They tend to be the voice for disabled people. People with disability are regarded as the property of these institutions. Furthermore, those who want to live independently become totally lifeless. I’m not at all against the role played by these organisations. However, I’m worried by how they sometimes operate. They have become the agents of disability. Without their existence people with disability are nothing. Has anyone tried to evaluate the negative side of organisations for disability?

Since 2008 I have been part of a team that organises events. I know precisely how things will unfold. The day comprises of government officials who read unfactual statistics on the current disability status and performance from the people living with disability. Sometimes depending on the budget allocated, a celebrity will be the host or perform. Conceivably the most significant question I should ask – who is benefitting from these occasions? To attendees or proponents of such events, what is the ultimate objective of the day?

We are all human beings; we all deserve the right to be treated with respect and dignity. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy, we need to ask ourselves to what extent have we made South African society a free and unprejudiced society where all human beings live with dignity and admiration?

) To comment or express your views about the issue highlighted in the column, go to www.express-news.co.za. Express Goldfields andamp; NFS welcomes anyone interested in contributing to the weekly column as public observers or citizen journalists. There is no payment for writers.

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