What an interesting start to the New Year, we as South Africans have had. We have been exposed to many of the things that we have been warned about. Due to our weakened currency, we will be seeing more fuel price increases in the future.

On the one hand, it is normal for every citizen to share in this dilemma and be affected by it on an equal basis but if you are already marginalised by other factors, then any deviation in the economy will affect you more. Now it is not every citizen that owns a car or has a business that relies heavily on fuel to keep it moving. Yet, it is each and every citizen that will have to fork out more money for everyday necessities and will struggle to survive financially. This is due to the fact that the rate at which inflation grows, is much larger than the rate at which the economy grows and even larger than the rate at which workers’ salaries grow.

Because every product delivered to the shops has to be transported and will cost more, we as the consumers of these products have to act more responsibly and come up with practical solutions to the problem of high prices and cutting expenses. Some of the solutions can work well when the disability factor does not feature. Imagine how difficult the situation can become if one has to car pool with someone that owns a small car. The wheelchair user will be the most unpopular member of the lift club!

Another great expense is electricity. We all need to be aware of our consumption of energy, be it electricity or petrol. We, too, have the responsibility to save electricity and water for that matter, and to contribute towards reducing the amount of energy we use. But power chairs need electricity to charge their batteries. We also need electricity in order to be mobile and active to participate in the economy.  People with disabilities have unique needs that are not shared with other members of society which need to be met in order to survive throughout the day. Some of these needs are basic human rights which are further complicated by the effects of disability and other social problems like poverty and unemployment.

Yet, it seems that no attention is being paid from the powers that be to the problems of a large portion of the disabled population. From a human rights perspective being left without necessary care is a serious breach of a person’s right to a life with dignity. Disabled people need human rights and empowerment to control their own lives. Although we need care, we also have the need for independence, choice and control.  This sense of autonomy is about having choice and control over how help is provided and furthermore about choosing how and when help is provided.

We require this help from our families, friends, the different government departments, in fact .from society at large. We have a democratic government that was chosen by the people to take care of most of our needs.  We have had twenty years of this governments’ ruling and we still face many challenges. Some of these issues have been overcome in other parts of the world. Some simple solutions to our problems exist, but they are overlooked by some officials. So what can we do about this? We have an election coming up in May this year. This government will want our votes. We all want a better life. They depend on us to go out and vote as we depend on them to stand and deliver on their promises.We are all dependent at different times of our lives and dependents, all need to be cared for.

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