Parliament, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities acknowledges the legislative gap at present within persons with disabilities as there is no “Disability Act” in the country.

The committee, with its engagements with the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, has urged the department to address this matter in the 6th term of Parliament and to ensure stronger enforcement mechanisms building on from the current White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The sentiments expressed by the committee come amid the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, commemorated annually on 3 December. The day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The day was established by the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 47/3 in 1992. The day provides an opportunity to mobilise action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities.

The committee has indicated that the development of policies such as the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the National Strategic Framework for universal access and design and reasonable accommodation support for persons with disabilities; and the National Framework on self-representation of persons with disabilities, which have been developed by the Disability Programme in the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, is welcomed. The emphasis will be placed on assessing the implementation of such policies and how these materialise into making a difference in the life of a person with a disability.

The theme for 2019 is “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda”. It thus focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as anticipated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to “leave no one behind” and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs, specifically in parts related to education, growth, employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.

The theme adopted by the South African government, as outlined by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is “Together building South Africa inclusive of Disability Rights – #DisabilityInclusiveSA”.

The committee takes cognisance of the priorities as outlined by the disability sector, which the government should be focusing on, key of which is the domestication of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The committee is aware of the African Model Law on Disability which aims to provide a legal and institutional framework for the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, in line with the existing international and regional legal and policy instruments.

The committee concurs with the sentiments expressed at the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People, regarding the Disability’s Report on the Draft Model Disability Law by Ms Pammy Majodina who is Parliament’s delegate at the PAP, where she said that emphasis should be placed on the laws and policies.


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