PLWD raises red flag

SYDNEY SAIZE IN MUTARE

People living with disabilities (PLWD) in Manicaland Province say they have been alienated in electoral processes and have failed to exercise their right to vote.

Speaking at an engagement meeting involving the media, minority groups, women and youths in Mutare, which was organised by the Partnership for Development Initiative, PLWD bemoaned the inaccessibility of voting places during election time.

Women and youths also complained of violence, name calling and labelling of female candidates with derogatory names and lack of financial resources to participate in an open election.

Godfrey Dzveta of Tariro Foundation Zimbabwe that represents PLWD said their members do not have identity documents and therefore cannot vote.

“Largely PLWD do not have documents such as identity cards and passports. The issue of disability is mostly synonymous with poverty in Zimbabwe and Africa. We need to have our government consider our plight and help us participate in governance issues of our country,” Dzveta said.

He added that public offices should be user friendly to everyone.

A women activist, Berita Goneso, said the occurrence of violence before, during and after elections contributed a lot in discouraging women from participating in politics.

“There’s too much violence on election time to the extent that women candidates don’t feel safe to take part. We need a scenario where there are peaceful elections for free citizens to participate both as voters and as candidates,” Goneso said.

A youth, Frascisca Mazaiwana said: “While political violence is (rampant) name calling is equally one of the reasons (for this disengagement). You would realise that women in politics are branded as of loose morals and said to have climbed the political ladder thanks to unorthodox means. It’s disheartening to say the least and you get pissed off and leave that to the lion hearted.”

Sisimayi Banda, whose parents are of Malawian origin, told Business Times that there was a need for aggressive awareness of aliens.

“The so called aliens can now participate in elections and vote as well but not many people from the grouping are aware of the development,” Banda said.

“A lot of civic engagement and education is required to rope in this minority grouping to be part of electoral processes in the country as the new constitution gave them that right.”

No comment could be obtained from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s chief elections officer, Utloile Silaigwana.

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