Persons with disabilities in Choma are appealing to relevant authorities in the country to consider them in the electoral process in order to promote their participation during elections.
This came to light when the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Human rights, National Guidance, Gender Matters and Governance received submissions from stakeholders in Choma on the operation of the Office of the Public Protector and participation of the disabled in elections.
One of the persons with disabilities in Choma district, Bosten Simeja said lack of sign language and braille communication in the electoral process deprives the visually and hearing impaired of a fair chance to participate in national development.
“During campaigns, there is no sign language interpretation. This could also be a reason for voter apathy among the disabled. We don’t feel represented and considered in the electoral process,” he said.
Mr. Simeja stated that most buildings in the district used as polling stations have structures that are not designed in a way that can allow easy access for people with disabilities hence this deters them from exercising their right to vote.
And Gestone Munkuli of Namuswa area in Choma has bemoaned the long distances that people have to cover to get to polling stations during elections.
Mr. Munkuli explained that long distances to polling stations has greatly contributed to voter apathy not only for the disabled but also the aged.
The committee has assured people with disabilities and other stakeholders that their submissions will be brought to the attention of the Vice President through the Speaker of the National Assembly.
Committee member, Herbert Shabula who is also Member of Parliament for Itezhi-Tezhi Constituency assured them that government is concerned about the welfare of the general citizenry as demonstrated from its initiative to take Parliament closer to the people through such sittings.
Mr. Shabula explained that it is government’s hope to see people with disabilities participate in the electoral process because they have the potential to contribute to the country’s development.
“As Parliament, all we can do is create an enabling environment for you to participate in governance. But the onus remains on you to get involved,” he said.
The Committee also visited Western Province before proceeding to Southern.