People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) in Bulawayo have blamed the lack of information sharing within the fraternity as the main contributor to low voter turnout ahead of the March 26 by-elections and harmonized polls in 2023.
According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Committee (ZEC) Disabled Voters population gender disaggregated statistics as of 8 January 2022, from January to December 2021, only four PLWD had registered to vote, namely two women and two men.
This is a slight turn from the period around 2018, which saw more than 2,000 people with disabilities register to vote, while in 2017, between September and December, more than 28,000 people with disabilities registered to vote. were registered to vote. In total, there are 30,381 registered voters among the PLWD between 2017 and January 8, 2022.
In an interview with CITE, the founder and director of Gateway to Elation, an organization that works with the visually impaired, Robert Malunda, said the challenge of voter registration among PLWD was access to information.
“Some of the challenges we face as people with disabilities are access to information when it comes to these things. The information may exist, but it will not be in an accessible format like Braille and audio or images for sign language users,” Malunda said.
He added: “The other challenge is the accessibility of registration places, they may not be suitable for people in wheelchairs; may not have a ramp.
Additionally, Tariro Gurure, a person living with a disability, attributed the low number of registered voters to the cost of accessing ZEC offices.
“The ZEC offices are too far away and because disabled people are the vulnerable people in Zimbabwe and most of them have no source of income so in order for them to go and register they will have to maybe commute twice and what’s even worse is that most of these people have carers so if they have to pay for their wheelchair, the carer and themselves, they need ‘about US$6 while an able-bodied person might only need US$2 to go,’ Gurure said.
She added that the provincial offices in ZEC Bulawayo are unprofitable and not easily accessible to people in wheelchairs.
“Let’s say they can afford to go to Famona, Famona itself is not accessible, there are no ramps or at their two places where we register to vote,” Gurure said.
“Inside there is no basic sign language part that can interpret what this person is saying, for someone who cannot see there is no braille for their biometrics, so it’s a fight; people would like to go there, but there are many things that can stop their productivity where they feel the accessibility and adaptability of what they need to be independent is not taken seriously,” Gurure said. .
Source: Innovation and Technology Center