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Ablism must fall!

04 Nov 2023 at 10:02hrs | Views
My blood boils when I think about how some people normalise the treatment of persons with disabilities as second class citizens in Zimbabwe even against the existence of government policy and pronouncements to the contrary. I don't boast of any qualification that makes me speak on matters of disability other than that I am a person with a disability and lived experiences which no amount of books or degrees can replace. As the war against ablism continues, I have been triggered by this article has been published on a wordpress blog. Ordinarily, I would not respond to this but I am persuaded to respond because the article is a true embodiment of ablism other than that the writer unnecessarily threw my name in a matter which he or she may have not invested much in understanding or he or she was being fed poison by the ablists.

The article seeks to suggest that the elections for the Senators to represent persons with disabilities were marred by irregularities. I will not comment much on the subject of the article although the temptation is very high because most of the issues raised therein are subjudice. In the article, it is stated that there was a visually impaired worker in the department of disability affairs who connived with the chief director of social services to rig elections in favour of someone with a similar impairment to them. The article further goes on to assert that Honourable Senator Zhou and Shiri abused one, DR. Peta, the director of disability affairs (herein referred to as the Director). The writer goes on to offensively and with boldness declare as follows:

“In support of Zhou and Shiri ‘s shenanigans, Abraham Mateta, Paul Gumbo, Cover Mugwadi and Tsepang Nare, have launched a ruthless social media campaign against Dr.Peta dubbed “Peta Must Fall” with falsehoods being created and spread about her, as they regard her as an intelligent person who is a threat to the power that Zhou and Shiri want to deceitfully monopolize and enjoy in the constituency.

What I find out of order is this mistaken view that I, as a disability activist would for a moment be threatened by imaginary intelligence of someone who spends most of her time theorising about what it is to have a disability. I don't theorise about disability. I live in an environment which disables me. I experience disability. Secondly, it is quite erroneous that the writer inaccurately believe that Senator Zhou and Senator Shiri are competing  with DR. Peta for space in the disability constituency. Senators are leaders of persons with disabilities and the director of Disability Affairs Department should be a technocrat, a servant for persons with disabilities and properly speaking the senators are her bosses so there is no reason why we should have such warped thinking that a boss and a servant should compete for space. The six degrees and the PHD in Disability Studies which the article seems to go to town about do not take away the fact that the director of disability affairs should be a servant for persons with disabilities and facilitate the visibility of persons with disabilities. On the 1st of November, the Director of disability Affairs unashamedly went to parliament in a budget seminar to present on behalf of persons with disabilities instead of ensuring that her office would facilitate persons with disabilities to speak for themselves as did the youths and other groups. Who does that? Is that all in the name of education and experience?

I am said to have launched a social media campaign dubbed “Peta must fall”  peddling falsehoods against the Director disability Affairs and the writer declares that without an aorta of evidence. What I have always stood and indefatigably fought against is ableism. It must be noted that not only am I a human rights defender but I am a professional. I have actually in some cases defended the Director and insulated her against de-escalation. It must always be remembered that on the 21st of June 2018, President Mnangagwa held an interface with leadership of persons with disabilities. In that meeting, persons with disabilities stressed the need for government to appoint a director for disability affairs in keeping with section 3 of the Disabled Persons Act (Chapter 17:01). The leadership underscored that they would wish that such a director be a person with disabilities and President Mnangagwa promised in no uncertain terms that a director with a disability would be appointed to the office. When DR. Peta was announced as the Director, a lot of persons with disabilities were perplexed and professionals like ourselves would somehow calm the constituency telling it to concentrate on the results rather than the work. After the conduct of the Senatorial elections and how the Director has held herself, my position became untenable. I have indeed questioned the Director's animosity towards persons with visual impairment and her tendencies to divide the disability constituency. I have every reason to believe judging on the language and contents of the article under discussion that the writer and the Director worked hand in glove. It is in this regard that I would wish the advisors of the director, if ever she has any, to let her know that while doing disability work, it is never safe for a person claiming to be a disability technocrat to engage in a gloves off situation with disability activists. Indeed, it is not a secret and I repeat without equivocation that after the suspension of DR. Mthethwa, the rubricon was crossed.

Following this article, I now more fully put myself in service  to the constituency of persons with disabilities in pursuit of defeating ableism and will now without restraint or moderation strategically direct my energy and full mental faculties together with others for this purpose. To all fellow comrades with disabilities and disability development workers sympathetic to the article which has triggered this piece, my advice is that tambirai henyu kure nekuti munogona kubatanidzirwa in what will now happen. Tatamba zvakwana. Until when should we be treated as people who do not think? Until when should we be abused by people who claim to be our saviours? Until when should servants be bosses? The ableists can't rest. They want to weaken our constituency. They targeted our technocrats and now they aim their arrows of hate towards activists. Ableism must fall and I make no apology. If ableism is the other name of anyone, then such a person must fall, no matter how intelligent, educated and experience they may think they are.

Source - Abraham Mateta (Mukoma A)
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