Constance Sibanda, the National Chairperson of Zimbabwe Women with Disabilities in Development (ZWIDE), has raised concerns about the lack of fairness in the electoral process in Zimbabwe.
Sibanda highlighted that people with disabilities (PWD) are facing barriers to actively participate in politics and decision-making processes, particularly when it comes to voting.
Talking to Bustop-TV, Sibanda said the lack of recognition and provision of necessary facilities hinders PWD’s ability to fully engage in elections.
Sibanda pointed out that PWDs who are unable to walk, for instance, face difficulties in accessing polling stations located far away. She stressed the need for transportation facilities that can accommodate individuals who require assistance in reaching polling stations.
“I believe that the manner in which our electoral system conducts elections in this country is not conducive to individuals with disabilities.
“It has come to my attention that within marginalized communities, there exist individuals with various disabilities who were unable to reach the polling stations due to the excessive distance.
“Despite our persistent complaints, this issue has yet to be adequately addressed. Such a situation directly violates their rights. Therefore, I suggest that transportation be provided for those who are unable to physically reach the polling stations due to their disabilities. This would greatly enhance the involvement of individuals with disabilities in the political process and decision-making,” she said.
In addition, Sibanda raised concerns about visually impaired individuals who were unable to cast their votes due to the absence of braille materials provided by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
She said these materials are crucial for facilitating the participation of visually impaired individuals in the decision-making processes.
“Additionally, I propose that individuals who are visually impaired be provided with braille materials, enabling them to make confidential choices when electing their leaders,” she said.
Sibanda stated that the failure of the electoral body to ensure the inclusion of PWD in decision-making processes represents a clear violation of their rights to choose their desired leaders.
“In order for the electoral process to be considered fair, it is imperative that everyone is able to participate. The current situation represents a direct infringement upon the rights of individuals with disabilities in decision-making processes, particularly in the context of voting,” she said.
Sibanda added that it is important to address these issues and work towards creating a more inclusive electoral system that guarantees equal access and participation for all citizens, regardless of their disabilities.