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Persons with disability demand opportunities

2021-06-25  Albertina Nakale

Persons with disability demand opportunities
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Although the government’s employment policy is based on the principle of equal opportunity for all its citizens, persons with disability continue to vent their frustration at the
dearth of employment opportunities in both the private and public sectors.

The National Disability Council Act of 2004 clearly states the state shall ensure that persons with disability have equal opportunities for productive and gainful employment in the labour market. 

Although various government offices, ministries and agencies seem to employ persons with disabilities, most of them are employed in low and middle-level positions, such as clerks or labourers.

A recent National Disability Council report indicated employment of persons with disabilities in various institutions is, however, very low, compared with the total workforce of institutions.

New Era engaged some persons with disability, who feel they are excluded from the employment sectors. Therefore, those affected are calling on the publication of the employment equity report to state which public and private institutions hire people with disabilities. The aggrieved people say many institutions in both the public and private sector continue to discriminate against persons with disability. 

One such distressed youth is Tweya Mbendeka (29), who is a visual artist. He says due to unemployment, he now draws artwork for income. Although he is grateful to government for his social grant, he says his challenge is that such a monthly
disability grant comes relatively late. 

“I struggle to make ends meet, as my art no longer sells because of the restriction on the borders due to Covid-19 that limited the tourists to come to Namibia to buy my artwork. The money I get from the grant is not enough and I am struggling to get a job because of my disability, which is a deficiency on my hands and feet caused by
 the radiation of the bombs that were
dropped in that area in 1966 in
Ongulumbashe. Most of us in the Ongulumbashe area have this type of condition. I think it will serve us justice to have the monthly grant increased to N$2 000,” Mbendeka said.

In response, disability affairs deputy minister Alexia Ncube yesterday acknowledged the employment of persons with disability is really an issue of concern. “I believe we need to do more.”

Regarding the demands to release the report, Ncube said she appreciates the call from persons with disability for the publication of the equity report, which should state which public institutions hired persons with disability.  “In realisation to the concern, I believe annually, the Employment Equity Commission does provide a report and such information is contained in their report.”

A 26-year-old Bachelors of Arts in Media Studies at the University of Namibia student, Kudumo Tobias, shared his struggles with the high costs of getting by. 

“Sometimes, we struggle to get hold of medical practitioners to treat us, as most of them are private doctors – and at times, we are forced to use our disability grant to pay for private doctors.” Tobias equally struggles to get placement to work or do my internship, citing his disability. He said he approached a number of media houses but struggles to be placed and finish his internship to obtain
his degree. Considering his condition, he
says he is required to buy computer software to aid him in reading online documents. 

However, he cannot afford such software – and this caused him to perform poorly in some modules. Those unhappy suggest the disability council needs to be empowered
to assist persons with disabilities with SME loans and other projects that could empower them.  However, they say the council’s commitment to register persons with disability at Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol) would not go unnoticed with the little resources at its disposal. 
Ncube said, as a ministry, their contribution has been to ensure the funding of students with disability at intuitions of higher
learning, which they started in 2019 in collaboration with Namibia Student
Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF).  Ncube said, during 2020/2021, government-funded 65 students with disability, and they shall continue to do so.  “We believe creating employment begins with education. We realise the biggest barrier is attitude and wrong perceptions on the ability of persons with disability. Let us, therefore, hold hands both the public and private sector and
media in employing persons with disability and showcasing the abilities of persons with disabilities,” she noted. Activist for persons with disability Brian Ngutjinazo echoed there are several public institutions that have left people with disability in the dark. 

“It is saddening and heartbreaking to see taxpayers’ money directed to the wrong use and worrying projects. The ministry of safety and security has failed to provide security for persons with disability; there are cases of rape amongst persons with disability that are not investigated. There are cases of rape that are not interrogated by some families and community members,” Ngutjinazo reacted.


2021-06-25  Albertina Nakale

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