Rights of Disabled Still Not A Priority

03 December 2014. 

As Parliament hosts the inaugural Disability Rights Parliament, which coincides with United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities, our Government's dismal record in terms of radical socio-economic transformation on behalf of the disabled must be acknowledged. 

"The disabled in South Africa still encounter immense challenges, most of which 20 years into democracy are not truly being alleviated through Government action or policies," said IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe. 

South Africa is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which compels signatory countries to protect the rights of its disabled citizens. 

"Yet despite this we constantly hear of schools still being unable to accommodate children with disabilities, and the lack of capacity to train teachers to assist these children. The previous department mandated to serve people with disabilities was inefficient and underperformed. Government seems not to have a clear-cut, practical plan on how to do deal with issues pertaining to disability," said van der Merwe. 

As we commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the IFP acknowledges that barriers that segregate, isolate and exclude persons with disabilities have been challenged, but too many remain. 

"Societal and political attitudes need to be continually challenged in order to remove the remaining barriers holding back the rights of the disabled," said van der Merwe. 

Van der Merwe expressed concern that there seems to be a lack of political will to join hands in addressing this important issue. 

"This week's events, organised around the Disability Rights Parliament, seemingly excluded opposition parties. Yet this is a national issue which affects citizens across the board. The IFP believes it will take a shared effort to prioritise disability rights, and is working hard towards achieving that goal," concluded van der Merwe. 


Ms Liezl van der Merwe MP,  082 729 2510
IFP Representative on the Portfolio Committee on Social Development