Musa Makhanya reads First Brailed Constitution

Musa Makhanya reading the brailed Constitution
Musa Makhanya reading the brailed Constitution

In September 2012 Swaziland ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention seeks to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities including the promotion of respect for their inherent dignity. The Constitution of Swaziland promulgated in 2005, section 30 also provides for rights of persons living with disability and guarantees the right to respect and human dignity. Swaziland made an undertaking to put in place the most appropriate measures to ensure that persons living with disability realise their full potential, including enacting laws for the protection of people with disability. Both these policy documents have served as an impetus for the country to ensure adherence to the needs of people with disability.

On the 14th of May 2013 UNDP in collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration launched the first ever Brailed Constitution of Swaziland. Present at this event were members of the Association of Persons with Visually Impaired Disability; Commissioners from the Human Rights and Public Administration Commission; The Deputy Prime Ministers Office and Members of the Federation of People with Disability in Swaziland.

Highlights

  • On the 14th of May 2013 UNDP in collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration launched the first ever Braille Constitution of Swaziland.
  • In April 2013, the Association witnessed the launch of the visually impaired Computer Laboratory

Mandla Makhanya (Chairperson) commended the efforts by UNDP and CHRPA for such an important initiative. Stating that increasing their knowledge on the Constitution will enable them to effectively participate as active citizens of the country and engage on issues of importance such as the elections.

When receiving the Constitution on behalf of People with visually impaired disabilities he reflected and acknowledged the support that has been bestowed to the Association in 2013. He mentioned that in April the Association witnessed the launch of the visually impaired Computer Laboratory currently housed in the Mbabane Library. This library has enabled people with visually impaired to access ICT, conduct research and access to information. He recognised efforts by the University of Swaziland which has enrolled the first student with visually impairment at the University and the Teachers Service Commission that has also employed one of their members as a teacher. He noted that the Government of Swaziland has embraced inclusive and participatory approach towards the involvement of people living with disability in the country. People with a disability of any form are often invited to participate in any national consultation processes that are being undertaken. The recognition of people with disability as citizens of this country was commended.

He also alluded to the consultation period, that persons with disability were consulted during the drafting of the Constitution however they were not sure if their views were incorporated in the final constitution, being able to read the constitution will be a test to the team. The Acting Chairperson Sabelo Masuku of the CHRPA informed the participants on the mandate of the Commission and   their responsibility of upholding the constitution especially in promoting and protecting the rights of all citizens. The chairperson also challenged the speedy adoption and implementation of the disability policy.

Mr Kabiru Nasidi UNDP Deputy Resident Representative appreciated the efforts of the Swaziland Government in the ratification of the Convention on Persons with disability.  He encouraged the Government of Swaziland to domesticate the convention and hoped that the draft Bill in place has been aligned to the constitution and the international instruments. Noted is that the National Disability policy will provide the foundation for promoting inclusive development for people with disability. He implored the   DPMs Office to progressively reform its programmes so they are responsive to the needs and priorities of people with disability.   

The DRR encouraged People living with disabilities to continue to advocate and influence for the adoption of the Bill. He emphasised that every citizen has a right to information thus this brailed Constitution provides the necessary framework for advocating for the rights enshrined in it. 

As the country goes into elections people with disabilities are encouraged to exercise their right to vote and be voted into political decision making structures. The efforts of the Ministry of Education Special Needs department were acknowledged for promoting inclusive education. He urged Parents therefore to take the responsibility to ensure that children with disability have access to education and services. Supporting People with Disability is a partnership between parents, community and the government.