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Violence shuts out women with disabilities from politics

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Violence shuts out women with disabilities from politics

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ELLEN MLAMBO
MIRROR REPORTER

MASVINGO – Political violence is one of the biggest hindrances for participation of women with disabilities in politics (PWDs), Masimba Kuchera, a visually impaired consultant has said.
Kuchera said fear of political violence, discrimination and accessibility of venues are the key impediments.
Former Senator for PWDs, Nasper Manyau who has a physical disability reiterated the same and said women with disabilities keep away from active politics for fear of violence.
He added that women are not spared from those challenges preventing PWDs from enjoying their rights to political participation.
Kuchera decried the absence of a policy on a quota for PWDs as is provided for women and youth.
“People with disabilities want to participate in political processes, they have membership with different political parties and they also want to be candidates but the issue of violence draws them back. We are also affected by discrimination from political entities themselves. We sometimes fail to access venues of important gatherings, access information and communication
“People with disabilities are still peripherally involved especially when it comes to positions and decisions of influence where development is concerned. What should be noted is that we are not a homogeneous group, they are a combinations of people with various impairments,” said Kuchera.
He called for a quota that will ensure reasonable inclusion in political processes.
“There is no policy around the general elections that stipulate a percentage to which people with disabilities must constitute but there is the National Disability Policy which was launched by the President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2021. The Policy envisages that people with disabilities must constitute 15 per cent of the participants in any program which include employment and political participation.
Proportional Representation is 60 for women and they are also part of the ZEBRA system in the Senate which ensures women involvement. We also have the youth quota where each province yields one candidate. These quotas are silent on either women or young people with disabilities and as a result they are left out,” said Kuchera.
Former Senator for PWDs and disability, activist Nasper Manyau who has a physical disability said women with disabilities tend to run away from participating in politics due to fear of violence.
“As Women with disabilities we tend to run away from politics due to fear of violence. We also look at what our counterparts in politics who are able bodied face and fear for ourselves on how we may also be worse affected. We face both verbal and physical violence and that alone is stigmatization,” said Manyau.
She added that political parties should field persons with disabilities and there should be something that binds them to equalize the participation to their able bodied counterparts.
Manyau said women with disabilities who are involved in politics only constitute 0, 5% while those who stand to contest constitute less than 0, 2%.
A female political activist with a chronological condition who preferred anonymity said she had on several occasions received death threats and in some instances she was attacked at her house.
“As women with disabilities and political activists, the community suppresses us from participating in politics. We need to be given a chance to fight for what is ours and we know our rights enshrined in the constitution,” she said.
Another female with disability, Rejoice Moyo told The Mirror that in most cases, women with disabilities who contest in politics don’t get votes as the community do not trust their capabilities.

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