The Zimbabwe National League of the Blind says the blind and the visually impaired have been excluded from accessing the draft constitution following reports that only 200 braille copies will be circulated nationwide.
Ishmael Zhou, the director of the Zimbabwe National League of the Blind told Radio Dialogue that no survey was done to determine the number of blind people in Zimbabwe.
“We are not sure if Copac carried out a baseline survey to determine the number of would be voters who are visually impaired to come up with this figure of braille copies of the draft constitution,” Zhou said.
“Braille documents are difficult to share because it makes use of fingers to read, the moment one puts their fingers on the lines then no one else can also put their hands on the same copy. We are far excluded from the process and the content of the draft constitution.”
Abraham Mateta of the League of the Blind says there are over 100 000 blind people.
Dorothy Duncan Braille Library director, Andrew Mutambisi confirmed that they have since delivered the 200 copies to Copac. Mutambisi says Copac had initially ordered 500 copies which was revised down to 200 copies due to financial challenges.
“We had initially charged them $15 000 for the 500 copies and they later asked us to cut down the number of copies to 200 which cost them $6000,” said Mutambisi.
Copac national coordinator Gift Marunda says the parliamentary body has been working with organisations for and of the disabled who indicated that the number of visually impaired persons in Zimbabwe is 10% of the 1.3million disabled people. Marunda said 15 braille copies will be distributed to each district.
“Copac is aware that the braille copies will not be enough, even the draft constitution for the generality of Zimbabwe will not be adequate, resources did not permit us to produce copies that we would have termed enough,” Marunda said.