THE Zambia Deaf Society says it is an insult that the Electoral Commission of Zambia has continued leaving out the hearing impaired and other persons with disabilities in the electoral processes.
And the deaf society has declared that time to regime change in Zambia is now.
Executive director Moses Soko stated yesterday that hearing impaired persons were looked down by the commission in all aspects of electoral processes such as voter education, election observation and polling assistance.
Soko stated that Lusaka would be having mayoral by-elections and the Electoral Commission had failed lamentably to recruit hearing impaired persons as voter education facilitators to educate their colleagues in Lusaka district on the electoral process.
He stated that the commission had, instead, dispatched a horde of individuals and cadres, leaving the hearing impaired out.
“So the question for (ECZ director) Ba Chomba Chellah is that ‘how will these massive people conducting voter education facilitation in Lusaka manage to reach out to the hearing impaired populations?’ These same people he sent don’t even know sign language so how will they manage reaching out to the deaf populations in terms of communication? Does he expect the deaf to listen to the mega phone messages? This is a total insult,” Soko stated.
He further challenged all political parties and their candidates to make use of sign language interpretation whenever they hold political rallies and conveying messages to the public.
“We appeal to the the ECZ to be non-discriminatory and enforce a participatory approach in the electoral process so that no one should be left behind. Democracy entails rule by the people for the people; this cannot be attained by a sector being left out because of their affiliation or status in the country. The ideology of no one left behind is not new to Zambia. We already embrace the ‘One Zambia One Nation’ motto which is being ripped off by a few selfish individuals championing corruption, stigma and discrimination, tribalism and all forms of horrible vices in our beloved country. Because if there is anything lacking in the country, it is selfless leadership,” Soko stated.
“Time for regime change is now. We at the Zambia Deaf Society call on government to act as an umbrella body for all and not a sector.”
He challenged President Edgar Lungu to prove that he really had a heart for the disabled because “under his reign, the situation requires the deaf to beg for inclusion and equality in the national agenda, including getting jobs and opportunities for life advancement”.
“We further challenge madam first lady (Esther Lungu) to create disabled friendly policies in all government institutions and join the struggle by disabled persons calling for the establishment of a Ministry of Disability Affairs in Zambia,” Soko stated.
“We the Zambia Deaf society takes note with factual saddening evidence on the Electoral Commission of Zambia stance on leaving out the deaf and other disabled persons in the electoral processes. The past Chilanga by-elections for example saw no deaf or any disabled person being engaged either as a voter education facilitator or poll agent or whatsoever which makes the transparency, fairness and credibility of elections impossible in this country whose democracy is under eminent threat.”
Soko called for the recognition and implementation of the persons with disabilities Act 6 of 2012, the United Nations Convention on the Rights for Persons With Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals for a holistic approach to participatory governance system “which is non-divisive regardless of one’s status, sexual, gender, disability or affiliation in the country”.