The Disability Observer 2020 Issue 4

An Aligned Disabled Persons Act- An emergency for persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe was once regarded as a model country for the disability rights movement in Africa and the world over. It
was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt any form of disability related legislation through the promulgation of the
Disabled Persons Act (DPA) of 1992. This was quite a progressive development considering that for many years Persons with disabilities were denied any recognition by the absence of disability legislation.

The enactment of the DPA in 1992 as a result of disability rights activists was a win for persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the Disabled Persons Act has not produced the promise that it had. Persons with disabilities remain marginalised, excluded and exposed to hostile living conditions. The constitution that was promulgated in 2013, the signing of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the same year, provided a ray of hope which has remained on paper and not a reality in the lives of persons with disabilities.

Since 2013, when alignment of laws began, the Disabled Persons Act has had a number of false starts. The number of consultations that have been done on the Disabled Persons Act in the past seven years, hinge on paralysis by consultation. The consultations have not led to the presentation of the Disabled persons act on the legislative agenda. A number of bills have been made and passed without the same amount of consultation. It is unfortunate that a country that was a torch bearer in disability laws in the World is now at the bottom in its capacity to be inclusive.

The law is very important for the rights of persons with disabilities, the lack of current and up to date laws lead to regression and the gains of research will not be realised by persons with disabilities. An updated Disabled Persons Act is urgent and an emergency for Zimbabwe if we are to address the inequality and marginalisation experienced by persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe.

Other topics covered:

  • COVID-19 preventive measures and persons with disabilities- How practical are the measures for PWDs.
  • Rights of persons with disabilities – Zimbabwe Constitution Section 83.