By FRANCIS CHIPALO
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has been urged to consider appointing qualified persons with disabilities to serve as nominated Members of Parliament (MP). Zambia Federation of Disability Organizations (ZAFOD) and the Disability Rights Watch (DRW) said the new administration should have more persons with disabilities serving in decision-making positions. The two organizations expressed concern that matters pertaining to persons with disabilities have over the years ended with pronouncements which are never supported with meaningful actions.
ZAFOD Vice President, Paul Mbewe, said it was such kind of approach and inertia from those who govern that has continued to widen the gap between persons with disabilities and the rest of Zambians in terms of opportunities, inclusion and meaningful participation in national development.
Mr Mbewe said persons with disabilities had continued to be an afterthought in Zambia’s development agenda. He said that persons with disabilities were expectant that President Hichilema’s Government will change the status quo.
“Mr President, your inaugural speech was inspiring especially on your pledge to run a more inclusive Government. Our desire as persons with disabilities is that the need to have such a Government cannot be overemphasized,” Mr Mbewe said.
Mr Mbewe said Article 69 in Republican Constitution stipulates that where the President considers it necessary to enhance the representation of special interests, skills or gender, he should therefore appoint persons with disabilities among nominated MPs.
“One of our major expectations are that you will be keen to deliberately include, among your appointments, persons with disabilities who are suitably qualified to serve as Nominated Members of Parliament as Article 69 allows you to do so,” Mr Mbewe added.
Meanwhile, DRW Vice Chairperson, Grace Nkhuwa, said persons with disabilities expected the UPND Government to adequately address the “systemic” marginalization and exclusion of such people from public life.