July 15, 2024

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Picture by Gallo Images


By Sipho Mabena

The department’s disability unit was staffed by only three people, while the minister announced that people with disabilities should receive food parcels, but this was not happening.

The SA Disability Alliance (Sada) have slammed the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities as being out of touch and not serious about issues faced by people living with disabilities, revealing that the department’s disability unit was staffed by only three people.

The consultative forum of national disability organisations expressed shock and disappointment at the outcome of Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s webinar on Friday on improving and upholding the rights of persons with disabilities.

Jace Nair, the CEO of not-for-profit organisation Blind SA, who represented the alliance in the webinar, themed “Persons with Disabilities and Covid-19 South Africa”, said the engagement failed to respond to effects of the virus on people living with disabilities.

He lamented the “fragmented and uncoordinated” approach by government on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities and the lack of adequate consultation with the disability sector.

Also participating in the webinar were officials from other departments such as the Presidential Working Group on Disability and bodies such as Disabled People South Africa, SA Disability Alliance and Persons with Disabilities.

Nair said people with disabilities were excluded from receiving essentials and food packs from government distribution agencies during the Covid-19 crisis due to receiving disability grants.

He said the minister announced that people with disabilities should receive food parcels but said this was sadly not happening.

“Blind and partially sighted entrepreneurs and workers from sheltered and protective workshops are not able to produce their products and sell them to earn a small incomes,” Nair said.

Marina Clark, the forum’s CEE, said their expectations were shattered by the webinar as it was a general discussion, instead of a direct response to the impact of Covid-19 impact.

She said Nkoana-Mashabane was so out of touch with reality.

“Our expectations were not met. It is like when you are hungry and are promised food, but the food is never delivered,” Clark said.

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