People with disabilities in South Africa continue to struggle for recognition of their rights more than two years after the government drafted a White Paper to introduce such a law, according to campaigners who met in Pretoria last week.
In the absence of this legislation, people with disabilities are largely left to rely on a “welfarist” approach – the kindness of government, non-governmental and private stakeholders, such as employers – for the protection of their interests.
As part of efforts to consult on the shape of a future Act, a National Disability Rights Machinery meeting was held last week, bringing together groups representing people with disabilities from across the country, according to the principle of “nothing about us without us”.
The meeting, hosted by the South African Disability Alliance and attended by key government officials, came as pressure is being ramped up to implement as a matter of urgency the People with Disabilities Rights Act that was promised by the 2015 White Paper of Persons with Disabilities.
In February, then finance minister Malusi Gigaba indicated in his Budget speech that disability grants would increase by R100 over the course of the year.
Although the rise was to be welcomed, it remained far short of the basic extra expenses incurred by people with disabilities and, unfortunately, represented the sum total of the minister’s actions to support this community, reflecting a wider official failure to understand and respond properly to the circumstances of the disabled.
Fortunately, there are proudly companies and institutions in South Africa that support and cater to the needs of people with disabilities, leveling the playing field and allowing them to live normal lives and enjoy the same pleasures and successes as everyone.
Hundreds of disabled learners had the opportunity to meet corporates seeking to employ people with disabilities at the recent SABC Disability Summit.
Hosted by the SABC Foundation, the summit aims to catalyse transformative change in the disability space by sharing lessons learnt, unpacking the latest B-BBEE legislative policies and their impact on businesses, identifying unique opportunities for collaboration and promoting corporate career prospects for South Africa’s youth.
The event brought together 500 Grade 9-12 learners, 100 graduates and 150 entrepreneurs with disabilities, to engage one-on-one with some of South Africa’s corporates, many of which are struggling to meet the disability requirements on the B-BBEE scorecard.
Disability 360 Campaign
In particular, the summit is aligned with the SABC Foundation’s Disability 360 campaign, which aims to empower people with disabilities by providing ongoing information online and on the ground, in all 11 official languages.
“Being heard, respected and valued is a basic human right for all, and we hope that through initiatives such as Disability 360 and the SABC Disability Summit, we will support this right and pave the way for enhanced training and job opportunities for South Africans with disabilities,” says Iris Cupido, CEO of the SABC Foundation.
“Having taken the expos as far as we could within our capacity limitations, the Hope-Mandeville team invited Creative Space Media to take over the organisation of the event with effect from this year. We believe the new management will help the event achieve its full potential for sophistication and growth. The move is already bearing fruit – Creative Space Media brought in the SABC as the primary sponsor of the event, and has upgraded the event to full conference status,” Slattery says.
Eskilz College is offering an Early Childhood Development learnership for people with disabilities. This course is for 9 to 12 months offering a R2500.00 stipend per month. For more info contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0100 30000 80