People with disabilities say electoral environment discouraging their participation in elections

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Lack of resources such as braille written documents and technological aids are some of the factors limiting the participation of people with disabilities in electoral processes. They say this has greatly hindered them in exercising their right to vote. Centre for Disability and development representative Edith Masango said this has resulted in a low number of people with disabilities actively participating in electoral processes.

“There is a serious lack of resources to assist people with disabilities which has therefore made them lose interest in participating in these electoral processes. This lack has taken away our right to vote.

“There is unavailability of assistive devices such as hearing aids, computers with joysticks for the blind and braille paper. Sometimes if they happen to be available, they are very expensive and out of reach for many of us,” she said.

Ms Masango said there is a need to engage people with disabilities to encourage them to participate in electoral processes.

“Sometimes people with disabilities shy away from participating in a number of processes because they fear being stigmatised. But this anomaly needs to be addressed so that they understand the importance of their participation in various processes that have a direct impact on their day to day lives and their future,” said Ms Masango.

She urged electoral authorities to ensure materials and assistive devices for those with disabilities are always available.

“As people with disabilities, we are therefore urging the responsible authorities to make sure that materials that are needed for people with disabilities to participate are available. We really want to participate but unavailability of materials and resources is a huge stumbling block,” she added.

Statistics from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission shows that out of about 900,000 people with disabilities in Zimbabwe, 450 000 are eligible voters and out of that number, only 29,803 were registered for the 2018 elections

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