Government steadily improving plight of people with disabilities: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the decision to move the political management of socioeconomic rights of people with disabilities from the department of social welfare to the presidency is showing results.

Sisanda Mbolekwa – Sowetan Live

“There has been important progress to address these deficiencies, with areas of focus including advancing communication methods and developing practical technological solutions for people with disabilities,” Ramaphosa said.

The president was addressing the inaugural summit on economic empowerment for people with disabilities as per the presidential working group on disability’s 2020 resolution.

Ramaphosa said it was regrettable that this working group had been unable to meet at least once a year. “We are determined to correct this and ensure that we intensify the work that must be done to advance the rights and improve the circumstances of people with disabilities,” he said.

The government last month observed Disability Rights Awareness Month, under the theme “empowering persons with disabilities through resourceful, sustainable and safe environments”.

“Despite these progressive frameworks, people with disabilities remain largely marginalised and excluded from meaningful participation in the social, political and economic spheres.”

Ramaphosa told attendees that the government would aim to remove barriers that impede the meaningful participation of people with disabilities in all areas of public life.

“It means that we need to address all the areas in which people with disabilities face discrimination through, for example, increasing job and training opportunities, promoting inclusive education and ensuring access to healthcare services.”

Critical to ensuring the empowerment and promotion of the rights of people with disabilities, he said, was to prevent all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse.

“This requires a concerted public awareness campaign to tackle prejudice and discrimination and means that our criminal justice system, public authorities and Chapter 9 institutions need to play a prominent role to ensure that people with disabilities are safe, secure and treated with dignity.”

Turning to gender-based violence, Ramaphosa said people with disabilities remained the most vulnerable, with limited access to psychosocial support and justice.

“Priority needs to be given to disability mainstreaming and inclusion in the criminal justice system. As a society, our responsibility is not only to protect people with disabilities from harm, but to ensure that they are able to realise their full potential and live lives of comfort, security and material wellbeing.”

The government was committed to advancing economic justice and creating opportunities for all people to achieve financial independence and reduce income inequality, he said.

“To exercise one’s economic rights, one must be able to actively and equally participate in economic activities — this cannot take place in isolation but must be part of structural change in the economy that will unlock growth and allow development.”

People with disabilities must be involved in conceptualising, developing, implementing and monitoring economic development policies and programmes, he added.

“These outcomes include the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability across the employment value chain, and that people with disabilities have equal access to just and favourable work conditions.

“Let us emerge from this summit with not only a clear sense of what needs to be done to empower people with disabilities for economic and financial inclusion, but also with a renewed determination to make it happen.”



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