By Deogratias Mmana:
President Lazarus Chakwera has directed the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to assess buildings in the city and local councils to ascertain if they are disability-friendly.
Chakwera has further directed the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to conduct an assessment of every public institution’s performance in upholding the rights and dignity of persons with disability.
The President gave the two directives yesterday at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, where he inaugurated this year’s Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) Flag Week, which is under the theme ‘50 Years of Empowering Persons with Disability’.
“I expect a progress report no later than the last day of this fiscal year,” said Chakwera about the first directive, before ordering the Ministry of Gender to report to him violators of rights of persons with disability.
“I will know how to deal with heads of those departments,” he warned.
Chakwera purchased the first flag at K1 million and urged the public to support Macoha.
Labour, Skills and Innovations Deputy Minister Vera Kamtukule said, as one way of uplifting the welfare of persons with disability, her ministry would give 25 percent of graduate internships to persons with disability without attaching the certificate/ degree requirement.
Kamtukule said it was time social barriers and negative attitudes towards persons with disability were removed. She further urged stakeholders to mainstream disability in their programmes.
Macoha Board Chairperson Chiwoza Bandawe said his organisation was on a mission to remove the stereotype that persons with disability are disabled.
Bandawe also said the mantra “disability is not inability” should encourage persons with disability to take control of their lives, live decent lives and prosper as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability and the Republican Constitution.
Bandawe asked the government to allocate enough resources to Community-based Inclusive Development Programme, which is being implemented in 14 out of the country’s 28 districts.
“With a national disability prevalence rate of 10.4 percent, we seek government’s intervention to allocate financial resources to fast-track mainstreaming of disability issues in the country,” he said.
This year’s Macoha funds will be used for resettlement packages for graduates with disability.