Have you seen Avatar yet? If not, then you must. We need heroes for our cause and it is exactly that which I wish to write about. We have more than a dozen people with disabilities as Members of Parliament. One of our comrades is even an Honourable Deputy Minister, one is the Chairperson of a Portfolio Committee.
Then why are we facing compromising situations like the following:
None of the Host City stadia have complied with the minimum criteria of the FIFA World Cup document with regards to the number of seats allocated for people with disabilities.
Almost none of the toilet facilities comply with the National Building Regulations.
Very few of the host cities can declare and show evidence of their accessible transport plan, that will cater for ticket holders who have mobility impairments.
With less than 90 days to go before the tournament, can this drastic situation be resolved? Will each host city be able to at least treble the number of seats allocated for persons with disabilities to the numbers they should be at? And then can MATCH, who are the agents selling these tickets, make them available to the public? In time?A big challenge... but one that should be taken on because we have a right to be part of this tournament.
MP Butana Khomphela, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sport and fellow person with a disability:
We regularly see you on television and you are quoted in the media as raving about the wonderful facilities for the World Cup.Sir, have you turned a blind eye to the inadequacies for people with disabilities in all host cities. Please Sir, stand up for your comrades and understand that very few will be able to enjoy this tournament. Furthermore, all of the stadia will remain inaccessible after the tournament, which leaves very little legacy for us at all.Show us where you come from, show us that you put your loyalty to your constituency of people with disabilities above that of a political party and your portfolio committee.
The National Building Regulations are under review. This process has taken ages and there seems to be bureaucracy at its worst. Our members with mobility impairments have not enjoyed an accessible environment and buildings continue to rise which are inaccessible.
Our Honourable Deputy Minister, Hendriette Bogopane-Zulu:You worked your way from the bottom to the top and now we need your political clout, energy, commitment and support - especially in your appropriate Ministry of Public Works. A lot of the infrastructure developed for the World Cup tournament is not universally accessible! We are still stationary at the bottom of many flights of steps. The real impact of all of this is that most of us are unemployed!
Madam, stand up for us right now. Show us your bravery and your commitment to the UN Convention with regards to the accessibility of our environment.We need a bold statement from you!If you and Khompela got together and pulled out the big stick, we would stand behind you all the way. Until then we are confused; we have exhausted all avenues available to us via civil society and lobby groups and now we need your commitment, such as was shown by Maria Rantho, in her time as a servant of her people.
The Road Accident Fund amendments, whilst providing wonderful fiscal support for the government and the country, have put a noose around the neck of people who will become catastrophically injured from road accidents. They will now be forced to be rehabilitated andsupported in state health care facilities. (We all know that state health care cannot do justice for people with severe disabilities).
Loss of income is capped at an amount that will not allow anyone with a disability to survive.Most surprisingly, and most unconstitutionally, we have lost our right to sue the wrongdoer in an accident, through these amendments.How did it happen that these amendments were passed when we have such strong representation of people with disabilities in Parliament? Surely they should take responsibility for the demise of people with disabilities from road accidents.
QASA is one of the claimants, in the case against the Minister of Transport, attempting to have these Amendments overturned! The case is presently being heard.
QASA’s mandate is to develop the capacity of quadriplegics and paraplegics, and litigation against the Minister of Transport was the last thing on our agenda.
Please can our comrades in Parliament show us what they made off?
Lastly, a few things:
Please diarise the first Tuesday of each month to listen to the Disability Report on SAFM at 9pm. Karen Key hosts an awesome programme (104 - 107fm) for an hour and Rolling features each time.
Look out, QASA is soon going to be launching a new service under the banner of 0860-ROLLING - a contact centre providing information for people with mobility impairments - that will be up and running before the World Cup.
This will be my last UpFront column as I am handing the opportunity over to the Chairperson of QASA, Raven Benny, to continue the column and share his views. I am sure that he is going have a lot of fun and that you will read some equally interesting columns.