Dr. James Zulu appointed National Coordinator for CDDRLP Zambia Office
Centre for Disability Development Research Law and Policy a Regional governance and human right NGO is concern with the operation of ZAPD since 2011 under the leadership of Patriotic Front as a Party in Government. Both management and the Board of ZAPD has failed persons with Disabilities in Zambia despite the good political will shown by Patriotic Front in both 2011 to 2016 Party manifesto and 2016 to 2021 Party manifesto which clearly outline the vision of PF and the good intension addressing challenges persons with Disabilities are facing under the able leadership of his Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu the President of the Republic of Zambia.
In both commitments outlined in Party manifestos creation of employments and improved service delivery to persons with disabilities through establishing of district rehabilitation and habitation centres was at the centre stage of PF Government but seven years down the line nothing has happened. As a centre we are still asking the President to remove disability functions from the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare which has failed to provide leadership for 30 years as we do not expect any miracle in the remaining three years before 2021 general elections, This has been our call and we shall continue because it’s a standard internationally because disability is no longer a social issue but a development agenda.
PF Government must understand that Zambia Agency for Persons with Disability is not a Disability NGO or a Disabled People’s Organization commonly referred to as DPO but a Government agency charged with responsibility to coordinator disability functions on behalf of Government and the people of Zambia in line with its mandated provided under disability Act number 6 of 2012. The Continued treating Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities as a DPO has taken the agency back to the time of Zambia Council for the Handicapped whose administration was rejected by cooperating partners and unless Government urgently review the performance of ZAPD now otherwise Persons with Disabilities will continue begging in the streets and centres created to provide sheltered employments for them remain white elephant.
If persons with Disabilities expect anything good from ZAPD under the leadership of acting Director General Ms. Julien Mwape they will soon be shocked because she has clearly indicated to us that Zambian disabled people are lazy and what is needed for them is Queen Elizabeth Poor Laws the historical Precedents of Tax-Supported Relief for the Poor which means to her disabled people are poor who only need charity and this law will make it possible for local authorities to force individuals and families to leave a town and return to their home parish if they became dependent.
As far as ZAPD is concerned under the current leadership disabled people must be forced to leave towns because they are dependents of ZAPD which clearly shows that they have failed to manage the agency. As a centre we are further asking for his Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to appoint a commission of injury to look into the operation of ZAPD and how sheltered employment can be revisited in line with the vision of Patriotic Front Party manifesto and the commission compromise of disability experts. The PF Government has the ability to address challenges persons with disabilities are facing because the President has the heart for the Disabled, The first lady has a passion for persons with Disabilities and Secretary General Hon Davies Mwila has been a strong voice for persons with disabilities making this Government unique and disability friendly.
The commission will allow Zambians and disability stakeholders to distinguish the difference between a Government disability agency and a disabled people’s Organization in terms of leadership and service provision. As a centre we followed with keen interest implementation of Patriotic Front Party manifesto particularly disability chapters which will hope to use as a measure of PF in Government performance in 2021 and beyond.
Professor Charles Mwape (PhD)
Disability Policy Analyst for Africa Centre for Disability Development Research Law and Policy