OK, maybe it is not hard to offend me these days. But the recent speech by the Premier of Gauteng really rattled me:
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has called on people living with disabilities to “stop relying on social grants and become active participants in the country’s economy”.
Nice...if only if it were that easy!!! This is so offensive on many levels. It makes the assumption that all people with disabilities are just sitting back, happy to sponge of the state...expecting everything to be handed to us.
Thankfully, I do not live in your province, but I do visit it, regularly. I do know many people with disabilities who do live in your province, and have to face dreadful conditions, and discriminations every day, due to YOUR inabilities to apply the existing legislation that we have.
- How do many people with disabilities become active in the country's economy when we are barred from using public transport?
- We have laws, which should mean that all forms of public transport are fully accessible to all, and yet YOU preside over a province which has transport facilities which are inaccessible to many PWD.
- How do many people with disabilities become active in the country's economy when we are not able to access state schools?
- We have a Department of Education White paper which calls for an inclusive educational system, and yet YOU are premier of a province, where most of the schools & tertiary educational establishments are inaccessible to PWD. We have been working with a particular university in YOUR province, which accepts that it is grossly inaccessible, and wants to address these issues, but has no funding (from YOU) to do so.
- How do many people with disabilities become active in the country's economy when we cannot move safely about your cities?
- I challenge YOU to spend a day in a wheelchair with me, touring around YOUR cities, and you will find several occasions where we will be risking our lives, as we have to roll down streets amongst the (inaccessible) minibuses, because YOU have not done anything about providing accessible pavements (curb cut outs, blister paving, etc., etc.)
- How do many people with disabilities become active in the country's economy when we cannot find employment?
- The country has the Employment Equity act requiring YOU to ensure that a minimum of 2% of your workforce are people with disabilities, and YOU are nowhere close to even that pathetically low figure! Once YOU start getting close to the real figure (10 - 20% of any society can be viewed as PWD, then you can start issuing such challenges.
Your speech is sickening, and patronising! I write as a person living with a disability, who has never received a hand out in my life (merely because I was fortunate in my circumstances). But your words speak of a massive lack of understanding of the needs of people with disabilities within your province. The vast majority of people with disabilities do want to work...they don't want to try to live on the pittance of a Disability allowance that is paid to them. But they cannot because YOU have not done your job properly. You preside over a province which allows active discrimination against all people with disabilities every day. How dare you insult us, by suggesting that PWD want to be reliant, and not financially independent. There are so many PWD, living in your province who have no education, no way of leaving their homes, and even if they do leave they face such challenges that you seem completely ignorant of. To release this crass statement on the International Day of People living with Disabilities is sickening.
I have a mind to try to arrange a meeting with you...in any building belonging of your choice, belonging to the Gauteng Province. If I can find any access issues with the building then I shall bring a case against you, and your province in terms of the Equality Act. By barring me from any part of the building due to my disability, would be the same as barring me due to my skin colour. If I cannot find any problem...then I am willing to put a full page apology in the national papers, along with a naked picture of myself… Are YOU up for the challenge???
Please remember, People with Disabilities do not want special treatment. We do not want to live off the state. All we want is the same chances as everyone else. We will know when we have true equality when people with disabilities get the same lousy damn service as everyone else. We don't want your money, your sympathy, or your words. We DEMAND our rights. The same rights as everyone else, which your province ignores on a daily basis.
We will know when we have true equality when people with disabilities get the same lousy damn service as everyone else. We don't want your money, your sympathy, or your words. We DEMAND our rights. The same rights as everyone else, which your province ignores on a daily basis.
So Premier, stop relying on words, and inaction, and start making active steps to ensure that PWD can become active in your province. We expect, and have a right to: accessible homes, accessible public transport, accessible public buildings, accessible cities, and streets, accessible schools, colleges, universities. We demand that YOU obey the laws of the land, and meet the targets set by the Employment Equity Act. We demand that every single part of every single public building is accessible to all...