Disability market disappointing - Zuma
Johannesburg - Progress towards pulling people with disabilities into South Africa's work force is too slow, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
Speaking during a visit to the Adelaide Tambo skills development centre in Benoni, he said a recent report by the employment equity commission showed the disabled made up about 0.9% of the employed. The target was 2%.
Zuma was accompanied by Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who is on a state visit to South Africa.
December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, first established by the United Nations in 1981. This year's theme is: "Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the millennium development goals towards 2015 and beyond."
Zuma said the issue of economic participation by people with disabilities needed to be prioritised.
"The report indicates that people with disabilities in the private sector was 1% in 2009 which represents about 35 000 employees.
"We have to encourage the private sector to continue to increase the number of employees with disabilities because it makes business sense," Zuma said.
The number of people receiving disability grants had increased from 694 000 in 2002 to 1.2 million this year. Government also provided a care dependency grant of R1 080 a month to help families care for children with special needs in their homes.
It also provided a disability grant to adults over the age of 18 who were unlikely to find employment because of their disability and had no, or limited, sources of income.
Zuma said it was unacceptable that up to last year, people with disabilities made up only 0.6% of state employees.
"We need to ensure that every government department meets its individual obligation with regard to employment of persons with disabilities."
Zuma said steps needed to be taken to increase the enrolment of children with disabilities at public schools.
"If we can make progress in education, we can pull many people with disabilities out of conditions of poverty," he said.