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20111030 A critical analysis of the legal and institutional frameworks for the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe


20111030 A critical analysis of the legal and institutional frameworks for the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe

It is a common misconception within the Zimbabwean society that PWDs are passive and economically unproductive, and therefore they are a burden upon the country. Given the fact that Zimbabwe is a country experiencing severe political and economic crisis and also faces unprecedented developmental challenges, PWDs tend to suffer more human rights violations as compared to their non-disabled counterparts.

Because of the widespread violations of the rights of PWDs in Zimbabwe, they have been described as the forgotten tribe. Women and children with disabilities in Zimbabwe suffer more human rights violations since they already fall under vulnerable groups. Despite the fact that women with disabilities (WWDs) are further disadvantaged not only because they are disabled but because they are disabled women, both the Zimbabwean legal and institutional frameworks for the realisation of the rights of PWDs do not address their plight. The same neglect also touches on children
with disabilities (CWDs) who are normally hidden at home and as a result, are denied their right to education among other fundamental rights and
entitlements.

This paper shows that the Constitution, the Disabled Persons Act (DPA) and other laws addressing the concept of disability are in need of
urgent reforms so as to capture the best practices at international level. The Constitution has to include other types of disability in its non-discrimination clause and not only to give reference to physical disability. The DPA has to be amended starting with its name which the author suggests that it should be changed to ‘Persons with Disabilities Act’ so as to be in line with the terminology currently used at the international level.