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FIVE years after signing a UN convention on their rights and two years after missing a report-back deadline, the government is still failing people with disabilities, say rights groups.
Civil society groups, NGOs and individuals made submissions at public hearings held by the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces’ (NCOP) committees on women, children and people with disabilities on Wednesday and yesterday.
The discussions included the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, signed in 2007. SA was expected to deliver its first report to the UN in 2010 but did not do so.
Departmental spokesman Cornelius Monama said: “With the establishment of the then-new Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities in 2009, a lot of work focused on building and establishing the new department. This affected our work of compiling the country report, which required significant co-ordination and stakeholder management capacity.”
NGOs and civil society groups said although policies were in place to promote the rights of disabled people, there was a lack of implementation.
DA MP Helen Lamoela said it was “unacceptable to have these public hearing year after year” if nothing was going to be done about the problems presented to the committees”.
The acting director-general of special programmes in the office of the premier of Gauteng, Zain Bulbulia, said the government was experiencing challenges.
“The government has not failed. In terms of legislation and policies, there are lots of changes, lots of things that have moved (forward)… there are challenges and not failures,” he said.
Liezel van der Merwe, IFP MP, said it was “clear that we have made strides with women empowerment, but when it comes to disability empowerment we still have a long way to walk”.