People with disabilities have formed their own political party, the Disability and Elderly Persons Forum that will contest the national, provincial and municipal elections.
Their main concern is that their voices are not heard because people with disabilities rarely become Members of Parliament. Leaders of the newly-established party say the existing political parties are not doing enough to fight for the rights of people with disabilities.
Representation of people with disabilities
People with disabilities complain that they are not well represented in the national Parliament and the provincial legislatures. They say their needs are also not being taken seriously by municipalities around the country.
They believe that establishing a political party led by people with disabilities will help to address their challenges quickly.
The party calls for the inclusion of disabled people in democratic processes:
National Spokesperson for the Disability and Elderly Persons Forum, Boyzee Mkhwanazi, says their party will make sure that people with disabilities are also considered when it comes to job opportunities, businesses and RDP houses.
“Our intention is to be part of the decision making by our government, policies, amendments and everything. We want to raise our concerns with the government in the right way.”
Mkhwanazi says the top positions of their party are held by people with disabilities.
“In the position of our party, the top five will be for people with disabilities only, all types of disabilities-blind, deaf and others. Secondly male and female elder persons, one for home-based care and then one for unemployed youth.
Support for the party
Analyst Solly Masilela agrees that people with disabilities are not well-represented in most political parties.
“In as far as the legislative framework of the country is concerned, it rarely and widely provides for the accommodation of people with disabilities or who are physically challenged. But, when you look at the composition of the political parties and also the role that is played by the people who are physically challenged, there is a serious gap except to say that somewhere, somehow you find a desk for people who are physically challenged. And when people are initiating to form a political party for people who are physically challenged or with disabilities that might be the force behind that particular view. However, one has to ask on the issue of marketing, will they have enough support to get votes to qualify for representation in local, provincial and the national legislature? That will be the challenge that they will be faced with.”
The Disability and Elderly Persons political party will be officially launched next month. They claim that they are already receiving strong support.