Through the support of ZIM-ECO Project, Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) commemorated the International Day of Disabled persons by engaging with Disabled People Organizations (DPOs). Participation of the People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process was discussed in depth, including the issues, challenges and constraints faced when exercising their democratic right.
Data shows that many PWDs remain disenfranchised in the electoral process. According to a 2013 UNICEF and Ministry of Health and Child Care study on the Living conditions among disabled people, Zimbabwe has a prevalence of 7% PWDs. Based on an estimated total population of 13 million, they are potentially 900,000 individuals, with at least 450,000 being eligible voters. Statistics from ZEC show that only 29,803 were registered for the 2018 elections. The number of those who actually voted is yet to be determined.
From the engagement workshop, it was recommended that domestic laws be aligned with international instruments on PWDs, and that ZEC develop disability policy and governance structures to encourage increased participation of PWDs. Other recommendations were the consideration of mobile and postal voting, more accessible voting material and information, and the inclusion of PWDs as election support staff.
The DPOs from the different categories of hearing, visual, physical and mental disability were represented. Two Senators representing People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the Senate also participated, along with all the Directorates of ZEC and their Senior Management.
ZEC and DPOs committed to undertake mobilisation efforts to register PWDs, and to further deepen the engagement in coming years.