Ministry accused of discriminating the blind

The Ministry of Community Development (MCD) and Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) have been accused of being in the forefront of discriminating against the blind.

Disabilities ambassador Elijah Ngwale says the ministry and the agency for persons with disabilities should not hide in the Disabilities Act no. 6 of 2012 but encourage their workers to ensure they were receptive to the blind.

He charged that the December 3 2015 commemorations of the International Day of Disabled Persons (I.D.P.D) was largely a flop because of the attitude of Community Development workers and those at ZAPD.

‘’Other than the First Lady Esther Lungu’s participation on 3rd December 2015  and her thought-provoking keynote speech, the whole event was a flop and discriminatory against the blind,” Mr Ngwale said.

He said at the event there was less emphasis on the message: access and empowerment for all people with disabilities.

Mr Ngwale said the participants received T-shirts that did not have the theme inscriptions or relevance to the celebration and bore the donor’s symbol; Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA).

He also said there was no UN representative despite the event being on a UN calendar.

“There was no UN representative at the event despite the IDPD being a UN event. A UN representative should be present at all such events,’’ Mr Ngwale said.

He also said that all speakers did not address some of the significant 2015 achievements for Persons with Disabilities which included President Edgar Lungu’s intervention in the retrenchment of about 300 workers of which majority were people with disabilities at ZAPD.

‘’ On 5th March this year, President Lungu summoned me to State House. I drew the attention of the President on the plight of ZAPD workers retrenched in 2013.

‘‘The President assured me that the retrenched workers will be re-instated and it came to pass; this was a significant event that should have been mentioned during the event but was left out by all the speakers,” Mr Ngwale said.

He said during the event, chairperson of IDPD committee Raphael Kamfwa was embarrassed and humiliated when he was denied the opportunity to be at the high table and his speech was discarded. Mr Ngwale also claimed that he was almost harassed by security men who mistook him for a common blind person when he was a Goodwill ambassador for people with disabilities.