Pretoria - More than 150 members of Disabled People SA (DPSA) descended on the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday, condemning President Jacob Zuma's recent Cabinet changes.
Handicapped people, many in wheelchairs and on crutches, arrived at the Union Buildings in taxis and buses singing and chanting.
DPSA spokesman Olwethu Sipuka said Zuma erred when he transferred the support system for disabled people to the social development department.
“Disability is not about social grants. Once you pigeonhole disability into social development you are merely saying the only thing disabled people deserve are social grants,” Sipuka told reporters.
“As disabled people we do not want social grants. We want to be able to work, feed our families, build our own houses etc. This pigeonholing is taking us back.”
Protesters held placards proclaiming “Disability is not a social burden. It is a human rights issue”, “Mr President, stop reversing our hard earned gains”, and “Nothing about us without us”.
Sipuka said disabled people wanted a ministry within the presidency, as was the case before 2007.
“Disability struggles across the world are fundamentally about how we should not pigeonhole disability into social development. The president has done precisely that.
“Disabled people, not only in South Africa but across the world, are saying South Africa is moving 10 steps backwards.”
Several police officers were at the scene as the protesters moved onto the Union Buildings' lawns. Some officers filmed the group.
Zuma announced his new Cabinet on May 24. He said the former ministry of women, children, and people with disabilities would become the ministry of women located in the presidency.
“The functions related to support for the people with disabilities and children will be transferred to the department of social development,” Zuma said at the time.