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Zimbabwe government sweeps disability issues under the carpet
Taurai Maduna,
April 19, 2006

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DisabilityWhen the Zimbabwe government razed people’s homes in Operation Murambatsvina or Operation Restore Order, no one was spared including disabled people.

Mr Alexander Phiri, Director for Southern African Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) said some members of his organisation were affected by the clean up and that they are now struggling to make ends meet. "Poverty is taking a huge toll on our members and the majority of our members have no shelter, or live in sub-standard shelter," said Mr Phiri. listen to audio file

Mr Phiri feels the government is not doing enough to assist disabled persons and that the voice of the disabled is not being listened to. He added that government officials have been making pledges to assist disabled people but to date very little has been done. listen to audio file

But Zimbabwe is not alone in ignoring the concerns of the disabled persons.

Are Disabled Peoples’ Voices from both South and North Being Heard in the Development Process is the title of research findings conducted by the Disability Knowledge and Research (KAR) programme. The research is a comparative analysis of the situation in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom and Northern Europe.

Mr Alexander Phiri, Director for SAFOD
Mr Alexander Phiri, Director for SAFOD
The research suggests that the development and implementation of disability policies in Zimbabwe and South Africa are still at a very early stage with the majority of departments and municipalities having only draft policies, or no policies at all.

The findings of the research corroborate Mr Phiri’s view that the government does not take disability issues seriously.

In 1991, the Zimbabwean government created the Disability Act, which was revised in 1996. The revised edition makes provision for the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons and mentions the creation of a public office for the Disabled Persons Affairs. Eleven years after the act was introduced there is still no such office in Zimbabwe.

People affected by the Zimbabwe government cleanup operation now live in metal and asbestos shacks

The research also revealed that the government is providing financial assistance to disabled people through the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. At the moment the government is giving out Z$60 000.00 to adults living with disabilities while children are allocated Z$30 000.00. But this combined monthly grant for one adult and a child buys just one loaf of bread and an egg.

Disabled persons in Zimbabwe are waiting for the day when they get the respect they deserve from the government. Until that day comes Mr Phiri said they will say, "there is very little that is happening."


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