Stakeholders Reiterate Importance of Inclusive 2024 Budget for PWDs

By Everisto Nyamandi

Advocates and representatives of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are stressing the urgent necessity for the 2024 national budget to be socially inclusive and pro-disability.

Speaking at a national budget engagement meeting convened in Harare on Tuesday, stakeholders expressed concerns about the current budget allocation and its insufficiency in meeting the financial requirements of programs for PWDs

Chengetai Kanyangu, the programs manager at the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (SAPST), called for immediate action to ensure that available resources are allocated to benefit PWDs and contribute to their inclusion in the nation’s economy and development.

“It is critical for the budget to be socially inclusive; hence the meeting today where persons with disabilities are bringing out their issues and identifying how the 2024 budget can be more pro-disability and inclusive in terms of all issues affecting Persons with Disability. There are still elements of exclusion that have been raised in terms of allocation of resources in the national budget as it has not adequately provided the financial needs for programming for PWDs, and there are several reasons for that.

“While we are aware that there are limited resources in our nation, perhaps part of the challenge could be prioritization of the existing resources. The call to action is that resources and whatever is available should take into account PWDs and enable them to be more inclusive in the entire economy and development of the nation,” said Kanyangu

Taurai Chako, the lead consultant with Disabilities and Development Pathways, echoed this sentiment, underlining the profound consequences of exclusion.

“Exclusion creates more costs than inclusion; it is much less costly to include Persons with Disabilities in the national budgeting process. Exclusion has a significant impact on access to education, access to basic health and welfare, and social security. They cannot contribute to the national budget processes, and they end up in poverty and deprivation of their dignity,” said Chako

Tendai Dondofema, a social worker with the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust, emphasized the importance of equality and accessibility for all citizens, including those with disabilities.

“Inclusion is vital for people living with disabilities. There is a need for equality, especially in public centers that cater to, for example, deaf people. There is a need for a budget for sign language interpreters for deaf people in places like hospitals,” she said

Samantha Sibanda, director of the Disability advocacy group Signs of Hope Trust, also called for a multi-stakeholder approach.

“There is a lot that needs to be done, including engaging line ministries and the private sector on issues related to inclusion so that we have empowered citizens with disabilities. There has to be a greater allocation for social security. The budget should be tailored to be inclusive for all.” Sibanda said.

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