President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday called for an end to discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities, saying every South African citizen has a role to play in the development of the country despite their condition.In a message to commemorate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Ramaphosa warned that there would be no sustainable growth and development in any society if there are members who are excluded from being active citizens on account of disability.
“We cannot rest even if a single one of our citizens is a victim of discrimination and prejudice on account of having a disability,” the president said.
He noted that said the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the difficulties people with disabilities faced in a number of sectors – from accessing healthcare to using public transportation and seeking employment.
“In line with our commitment to building towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post Covid-19 world, we must ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “The social, economic and political inclusion of persons with disabilities is included in the UN Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals as well as in our own National Development Plan (NDP).”
“Now that we are in the final decade of implementation of both the NDP and Agenda 2030, we must increase the pace of change,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said through the work of the Presidential Working Group on Disability, his government was mainstreaming disability issues in all government plans and programmes, along with the necessary budgets.
“Disability has been included in the work streams of the National Coronavirus Command Council. We are striving to ensure that the legal, social, economic, health care and containment work streams include disability in their work.
“A process is underway to finalise a report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on persons with disabilities which will guide, not only our approach to disability in the economic recovery plan, but also our preparation for future crises of this nature,” he said.