BVR centres must be friendly to persons with disabilities
The biometric voter registration (BVR) exercise is presently in full swing in most constituencies throughout Zimbabwe and thousands of people are turning up at various BVR centres to be registered as voters.
The MDC would like to encourage all eligible Zimbabweans to turn out at their nearest BVR centres and register to vote. Indeed, registering to vote as well as casting one’s vote on polling day is a very important and patriotic national duty. Zimbabweans should be given the opportunity to freely and fairly elect a government of their choice. Thus, a deliberate failure to register to vote as well as to cast one’s vote on polling day is a gross betrayal of the gallant sons and daughters of the soil who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that the Republic of Zimbabwe gained independence and sovereignty on April 18, 1980.
Statistics have shown that at least 10% of the population of Zimbabwe consists of persons with disabilities. These persons have got every right, just like their able – bodied counterparts, to participate in the governance of their country, including registering to vote as well as voting on polling day. As such, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), has a constitutional obligation to make sure that all eligible persons with disabilities are able to register to vote during the on – going BVR exercise.
The starting point is to make sure that all BVR centres are friendly to persons with disabilities in order to make it easy for these people to access these centres. We have some eligible Zimbabweans with physical disabilities such as those persons who use wheel-chairs as well as the visually impaired. BVR centres should be adequately equipped to ensure that these eligible Zimbabweans with disabilities are not unnecessarily inconvenienced when they turn up to register to vote.
The MDC fervently advocates for government policies that guarantee equal opportunities to all Zimbabweans regardless of race, colour, creed, ethnicity and political affiliation. An MDC government believes in the pursuit of happiness for and by all Zimbabweans. We would like to construct a progressive and dynamic government that doesn’t discriminate against anyone, including persons with disabilities. Indeed, disability doesn’t mean inability.
There is still enough time left during the on – going BVR exercise for ZEC to immediately put in place facilities that are friendly to all eligible Zimbabweans with disabilities. If need be, ZEC can liaise with the various national and local organisations that cater for the specific and special interests of persons with disabilities in putting into place the necessary facilities at all BVR centres countrywide. Zimbabweans are a very resilient and innovative people and the MDC is convinced that it shouldn’t be too difficult for ZEC to make all BVR centres friendly and suitable for persons with disabilities.
We are one nation together and we would like all eligible Zimbabweans to be able to register to vote. The MDC would want to go a step further and strongly encourage persons with disabilities to get more and more involved in matters of governance so that a significant number of the contestants in next year’s elections can come from persons with disabilities.
In fact, an MDC government will create a specific Cabinet Ministry for persons with disabilities whose Minister will be a person with disability. At any rate, this is the modern trend the world over and as a progressive and dynamic social democratic political party, the MDC would not want to be left behind in the global trend of mainstreaming all matters pertaining to persons with disabilities.
MDC: Equal Opportunities for All
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson