‘Govt forgot plight of people with disability during lockdown’

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By Makanaka Masenyama

PEOPLE with disabilities in Zimbabwe are among those worst affected by the national lockdown as many of them are unemployed with no stable income.

These are sentiments expressed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights) in a report entitled; “Their Voices Matter: Community Responses to COVID-19 Measures”.

The rights group expressed concern over the struggles people with disability have been forced to go through while trying to cope with the lockdown.

Zimrights urged authorities to consider specific requirements of persons with all forms of disability as one of among government priorities in development plans.

Government recently announced a ZWL $600 million package to help vulnerable households deal with the financial troubles brought by the lockdown.

Government had no specific package for those with disability.

One Masimba Chinake, a Murehwa villager with disability, says he was struggling to make ends meet as he depended on sells airtime recharge cards at Murehwa Centre.

“We have no idea how we are going to resume operating because we are now eating into our capital,” he said.

“The money that I get from selling airtime caters for food, my children’s school fees and other things for us to survive but we cannot go there because of lockdown.

“We did not get adequate time to prepare for the lockdown and the little capital that we have been holding onto is soon going to be exhausted as we are now using it to buy food. We appeal for assistance.”

People with disability also face challenges in accessing subsidised mealie meal as their physical limitations do not allow them to scramble with the able bodied to buy the scarce staple.

They are also prone to contracting Covid-19 due to congestion in mealie meal queues.

Another Zimrights elderly man only identified as Baba Charmain, who also has physical impairment and runs a shoe repair business in Norton, has appealed to government to assist those with the vulnerabilities.

As part of its recommendations, Zimrights has urged the government to develop programmes for the welfare of persons with physical or mental disabilities.