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16TH FEBRUARY, 2021
For immediate release
ECZ MUST UNDERTAKE MORE MEANINGFUL CONSULTATIONS WITH PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
LUSAKA– Disability Rights Watch (DRW) calls on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to undertake more meaningful consultations with persons with disabilities if the aspiration of running an inclusive electoral process is to be realized ahead of the August 2021 general elections.
The organization also demands that the ECZ makes available a detailed budget and action plan for disability inclusion in the 2021 general elections so that persons with disabilities and their representative organisations can know what the commission has planned for them and engage more meaningfully with all stakeholders to ensure the action plan is funded and supported.
DRW joins other stakeholders in expressing concern with the continued utilization of non-accessible platforms to some categories of persons such as the blind and visually impaired by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
Whilst we commend the commission for ensuring that the voters register this time around carries disability data, it is concerning that the means of verification of voters are not accessible to persons with disabilities and there is no evidence of inclusive communication strategies targeted at persons with disabilities around their civics rights as relates to the electoral process.
We recommend that the ECZ works closely with Organisations representing various categories of persons with disabilities to develop appropriate, accessible application software and online platforms to empower persons with disabilities to interact with the commission and its services virtually in an independent manner and on an equal basis with others.
Participating in the electoral process and the political life of a country is the Constitutional right due to all citizens including persons with disabilities who must also enjoy these rights without restrictions. We remind the commission of its duty under Part V, Division 5 of the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2012. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities guarantees this right in Article 29. It is therefore essential for all eligible persons with disabilities to have the means to take part in the 2021 polls both as candidates and voters because it is their civic and political right.
We appeal to families, support persons and personal assistants of persons with disabilities to help them verify their details online in the on-going exercise which began on 7th February 2021 and will run up to 7th May 2021 because it is key for the enjoyment of their rights.
COORDINATOR – PROGRAMMES