Organisations representing people with disabilities have voiced their disappointment at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s failure to address their plight, calling it a “shame”.
The SA Disabled Association (Sada) described as a “shocking shame” that in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday, the president disregarded this major sector of the society.
Sada’s statement was echoed by its affiliate Epilepsy SA, which said Ramaphosa made no direct reference to the promotion of the inalienable rights of persons with epilepsy and other disabilities in his pronouncements on education, health, inclusive economy and dealing with unemployment.
Sada chairperson Marina Clarke said persons with disability are faced with stigma and marginalisation on a daily basis and to be ignored in the Sona “provides evidence of the reality our sector faces in our South African society.
“It is shameful that the president decided to totally disregard the plight of persons with disabilities, reducing them to mere grant collectors, instead of planning for interactive programmes to uplift the disability sector.”
South Africa had a shocking history in disability care. Sada had hoped for a mention of the Life Esidimeni tragedy and what tangible plans there are to deal with the perpetrators.
Clarke added: “To add insult to injury, the president vowed to supply the schools with digital marvels that, in his mind, would somehow benefit the ailing education system, while 600 000 disabled children are denied the basic human right of receiving an education.
“This is the second generation of children with disabilities who are not receiving an education and thus will continue to slip through the cracks of government indifference towards the disability sector.”
Sada expressed frustration that a child with special needs was given a subsidy of R22.37 while incarcerated prisoners were offered free studies and a R200 daily subsidy.
“How government could justify this travesty, is beyond comprehension,” she said, adding she was dismayed that the proposed National Health Insurance Bill had omitted special care needed for persons with disability.
Political analyst Sanusha Naidu said Sada had a point. She said Ramaphosa didn’t even mention the hot issue of violence against people with albinism.
“They are justified, they were not mentioned in terms of policy and how the government had gone with the needs of this community.”