ZAMBIA Federation of Disability Organisation has said it will be compelled to seek a court order to compel the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to respect the rights of persons with disabilities to fully and freely participate in politics and public life directly or indirectly.
This is according to a statement made available to the Times in Lusaka yesterday by the organisation’s human rights manager Wamundila Wailuya.
Mr Wailuya said despite efforts by the organisation to negotiate with ECZ for a long time, the commission was relaxed in fulfilling the need to have persons with disabilities participate fully and freely in the electoral process of the country.
“The electoral process has generally remained inaccessible and unfriendly to persons with disabilities. In view of this, we remain with no option but to seek a court order to compel the ECZ to respect the rights of persons with disabilities to fully and freely participate in politics and public life directly or indirectly,” he said.
He said ECZ should exhibit a high degree of commitment in terms of a written action plan and adequate budgetary allocations towards issues of accessibility for different categories of persons with disabilities.
Mr Wailuya said if ECZ did not show commitment, the organisation would seek a court intervention on discrimination on the basis of disability.
He said a declaration should be passed that ECZ had directly discriminated against majority of persons with disabilities as per the provisions of the Persons with Disability Act No.33 of 1996 part 6 section 19 subsections C and (d).
Mr Wailuya said there should be a provision of reasonable accommodation where a court declaration should be made that ECZ had failed to provide reasonable accommodation for majority of persons with disabilities as provided for by Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Fulfilling of the State’s obligation to abide with ratified international conventions, a court declaration must be passed that ECZ as a statutory body of the State has failed to abide by the principles and provisions of the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities,” Mr Wailuya said.
He said if ECZ failed to exhibit a high degree of commitment through an action plan and budgetary allocations, the court should issue an order to the commission to place ramps at all polling stations.
Mr Wailuya said the commission should provide tactile or Braille ballot templates to guide blind persons who wished to vote and also carry out sensitisation on how to use the template.
He said ECZ should also train all electoral officers and polling assistants on different needs of different categories of persons with disabilities during registration and elections.
“This order must lead to amending electoral policies, laws and regulations to cater for needs of different persons with disabilities and to conform to the principles and provisions of the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities,” he said.
[Times of Zambia]