The South African (SA) government recently revealed its initiative to implement a scheme where it shall reserve 3 seats in every combi/taxi for the disabled persons to have travel space during the 2010 World Cup in SA.
This was to ensure that all the civilians, including the disabled within the country, would be given an equal chance of viewing the World Cup live on their own soil.
The Botswana Federations of the Disabled (BOFOD), a newly established organization for the disabled, received the news warm heartedly and are happy for the improvements made by the South African government.
According to the Chairperson of Botswana Council for the Disabled (BCD), Paulus Mapeke, Botswana should review its current initiatives to include plans and reform strategies for the disabled.
While acknowledging that the Ministry of Health has been helpful in achieving some of the goals set by the organization, Mapeke feels that there is room for improvement.
But the organization is disappointed with the way Botswana media handles the issues pertaining to disabled persons, citing as an example the fact that the federation had sent out an invitation to all the media fraternities and only the Sunday Standard turned up, yet in SA the media is more attentive towards such sensitive issues.
The organization feels that our country is yet to improve its current strategies concerning treatment towards its disabled community.
Countries such as South Africa and Namibia, have found it fit to hand out social disability grants to the disabled persons living within their societies while Botswana remains one of the countries that does not include the disability grants in its poverty eradication schemes.
Recently, the Botswana government had publicly declared the high costs that are called for by programmes and equipments that are to cater for the disabled.
Despite these revelations, the organization saw it fit to send a delegation to the current Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Patson Mazonde, in which they seek the ministry to put forward an idea to parliament about giving the disabled social disability grants.
According to Maseke, the disabled in this country and elsewhere in the world are regarded to be amongst the ‘poorest of the poor’ as some can’t even work for a living.
“Most of us ‘re bahumanegi ba nta ya tlhogo’ (extremely poor) and besides trying to make ends meet, we cant provide for ourselves, we are now looking up to our government who denies us the right to even vote, to sustain us financially,” said Mapeke.
According to another member of the organization, all they are asking for is Botswana government to enact the disability legislation in order for them to rectify their dignity.
“They call us special persons yet they do not make any special efforts for our benefit; you go to government schools and offices, the doors are not large enough for a person with a wheel chair, in this era of HIV/AIDS the locally made condoms do not have Braille language, just how is a blind person supposed to know the expiry dates on a condom,” said the member.
The road will be long and hard but the organization is fighting for their rights: now and for the future.