Policies 'n Politics

The Disability Summit has come and gone leaving me with some questions: Was it just a political performance before the end of the year to spend money and show the sector that they are still acknowledged? OR is there true commitment from Government to reach Employment Equity targets and ensure equality through the delivery of services and implementation of policy? AND a lot of money was spent on us, BUT was it for us? In South Africa, we have one of the best constitutions in the world, but, in contrast, our people with disabilities are still suffering and battling.

At the Disability Summit, there was not enough time for meaningful debate and consultation, and we saw some of the same old presentations using up valuable time. I could not help feeling that some of the resolutions were constructed before the conference even began. Minister Pahad, (likeable guy that he is) sang the same old song – BUT, it is his very own puppets who are failing us! And we had the same promises and intentions voiced at the same Summit last year, again with resolutions and again with no progress or forward movement.In many ways we are ahead of so many countries in the world having an Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Office of the Presidency, but I somehow feel they are the Masters and we are the Slaves and it should be the other way around.

Maybe Rolling Inspiration should have a “Mampara” of the month as the Sunday Times has (Mampara of the Week). Yes, I know I would feature too, but so would a lot of our MP’s with disabilities, definitely the Minister of Transport would have qualified with his “Car Free Day”.

I have some ideas:

  1. The South African Disability Alliance (SADA), formerly, the Federal Council, has still not got the legs and influence that it is meant to have. I can assure you that we have the will for it to work, but it needs funding and a formal structure to manage coordination. The long spoken about Disability Fund should fund it, or the National Lottery Trust! Good news is the team building exercise for all SADA members before the end of the year to create a united Alliance and a Strategic Plan.
  2. The Disability Sector needs to mobilise again. We talk and write; we should be rolling and rioting!
  3. We don’t use the power of the Equality Act and we should. “Lets Do It” and start immediately on access issues. Whilst the National Building Regulations seem to have been accepted by us, they fail “to eliminate obstacles that unfairly limit or restrict persons with disabilities from enjoying equal opportunities”. That is a quote from the Act!
  4. We must develop the ability of our members to come through as new leaders and strengthen our provincial members and leaders.

The Paralympians are inspiring, but I can’t help being frustrated at the fact that they will come home to an environment which is still inaccessible (transport, services, information), after having spent 14 days of their lives in a country rife with human rights transgressions, but in an Olympic Village which is so accessible. Let us strive for the same accessibility as an Olympic Village and settle for nothing less. Let us support the SADA and push them to ring the changes we rely on them to do.Finally: I hope you enjoyed the ACSA Disability Show at Gallagher Estate, hold thumbs for those with disabilities participating in the epic Quads 4 Quads event and let’s make sure that persons with disabilities are represented in all political parties, who are busy constructing their candidate lists for the 2009 elections.

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