Your foundation will hold a disability summit and a career fair on Tuesday (today); what do you intend to achieve with this event?
The summit is designed to give a voice to the law; there is a law called the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Law, 2018. That law has some particular specifications for corporate and public sectors. For instance, it says an existing building must have facilities for persons living with disability and we need to make those corrections, we have a five-year time frame to do that.
What other provisions do we have in the law?
The law also stipulates that new buildings must have facilities for persons living with disabilities; anybody who approves a plan for a building to be built without providing facilities for persons living with a disabilities is liable to fine if found guilty. So, the summit is to speak with stakeholders, particularly the private sector, on what the implications are in this whole enterprise.
Prior to now, it has always being a case of appealing to the private sector to do something for persons with disabilities; now it has become a law, it becomes an obligation they need to obey. The law states that a minimum of five per cent of job positions must be given to persons with disabilities in an organisation. What does that mean for companies? Are they looking towards that direction? Are they aware of it? That is what the summit is all about.
How do you intend to use the summit to achieve the implementation of the law?
What our foundation intends to do is to increase the level and strategies of advocacy; we are not really concerned about the litigation aspect of the law, even though we have a team of lawyers that are ready to work with us to to do that. But we realise that such may not work well because some firms are not aware of what the law says. We will step up campaigns and advocacy to engage with the private sector, HR (human resources) managers. We intend to build on the strategic partnership we have with the private sector.
We are not asking the HR managers to pity people living with a disabilities, because if a person is offered a job, it should be on the basis of competence, not because they are disabled. Even when the law says some positions must be made available to people living with a disability, we are saying that it must be strictly on competence. We will make sure that we do more enlightenment and increase the conversation around making life easy for people living with a disability.
What other measures did the law prescribe for people living with disability?
For instance, if a person is on a wheelchair, and he needs to use the toilet facility, the building should be built in such a way that it would be easy for such person to use the toilet like their colleagues who are not disabled. Also, if someone is blind, they must have the right equipment that will enable them to discharge their duties appropriately.
The issue of discrimination; how do you intend to address that?
People should stop discriminating against persons living with disability; it can happen to anybody at any time. So, we all have a duty to protect and guide them.