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Disability Movement rejects Chombo's special interest councillor

The Disability Movement in Bulawayo has also rejected the appointment of Fidelis Fengu as special interest councillor representing people with disabilities saying organisations for and of people with disabilities were not consulted.This follows orders by the ministry of local government, urban and rural development development that the Bulawayo City Council swear in Fidelis Fengu as a special interest councillor representing the disabled.

Representatives of disabled organisation’s umbrella bodies today told Radio Dialogue that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is imposing an individual who is unknown to the disabled in Bulawayo. Federation of Organisations of Disabled People in Zimbabwe spokesperson, Whartson Khuphe says the post requires an individual chosen by disabled persons.

“Disabled people’s advocacy and rights based activities are championed by disabled people themselves, if they decide as government to impose an individual to represent the disabled, it may be difficult because the councillor may not get cooperation from the movement,” Khuphe said.

“When government appoints the National Disability Board, it writes to disabled people’s movements to ask for nominations, they don’t pick anyone from the streets or from the church but they approach the disabled.”

The National Association of Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) says while the inclusion of a person representing the disabled within the local authority is noble, disabled rights activists should have been given an opportunity to choose their own.

“The idea to recognise disability as a human rights issue is good being but the problem is that the approach they have taken will not yield good results,” said NASCOH chairperson, Ishmael Ndlovu.

The National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe says Fengu is unknown to the disability movement in Bulawayo. The Council’s interim president Obadiah Moyo says while representation of the disabled in council improves in the accessibility of services, disabled persons have a right to know where Fengu is coming from.

Joshua Malinga, a member of the Zanu PF politburo also condemned the move by Chombo to appoint Fengu without consulting disability groups. Malinga says Chombo had initially asked him to make suggestions of candidates who could have been appointed and Fidelis Fengu was not on the list.

“Some time ago I made recommendations of special interest councillor and the minister is still to come back to me, Fengu was not one of them,” Malinga said.

“Everybody is to be elected, an election is not one system. If you are appointed after consultation, there is no problem but I would have believed that someone to hold that position would have come come from the Disability Movement.”

Meanwhile, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha has since granted an interim order interdicting the Bulawayo City Council from swearing in Fengu.

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