THE Lukhanji Disability Council (LDC) members have expressed their disappointment at being left out of programmes in the area.
LDC secretary Mawonga Yelani said little had been done to include disabled people in all sectors.
“We have the disability council which is a programme from the premier’s office sent to district and local municipalities after realising that they were not fulfilling their responsibilities towards disabled citizens.
“People look at us and think we can not do anything, but we do not see ourselves in that way. It is the environment that disables us. The offices of some places in town have stairs and they are not designed to accommodate us,” Yelani said.
“We have some programmes that we want to implement, such as repairing wheelchairs. We want to start making tissue paper to assist our members financially. We need people who can come and show us how they would be willing to assist, because, in the end, it will create employment for the disabled.”
He said the disabled did not want to be represented but wanted to represent themselves.
“We are the champions of our situations and we want to be part of decision-making matters. Disabled people are not represented in municipalities. They are making by-laws on our behalf and we feel there is still a gap that needs to be filled.”
He said disabled people were the most affected by the high unemployment levels. “The time has come for us to prove ourselves. “Unemployment is a difficult thing, especially for senior citizens because most of the schooling conditions in the past were not conducive for them. The disabled youth today can at least attend schools. We want to see how many disabled people are employed in government departments, municipalities and the private sector as some of them end up viewing their condition as a curse.”
An outreach programme to include disabled people in society had started.
“We go out and meet disabled people in various communities in the area. We want to know how many disabled people there are, what their level of education and skills are, and the kind of disability they have.”
LDC chairman Mzilakazi Toza appealed to employers to consider disabled people when they had vacancies.
“They must give us a chance for internships and learnership programmes at the various departments and private companies. People forget that we also contribute to the economy of the town.”
He also urged inclusivity in sport, saying the disabled people of South Africa had excelled at the Rio Paralympics recently.