Speaking during a visit and making a donation to the Mashambanzou home for people living with AIDS situated in Waterfalls suburb of Harare and the disabled people, Tsvangirai described Phiri who was the director general of the regional executive of the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled, as a forthright individual who spoke his views particularly on issues of disabled persons.
Tsvangirai said he was happy to be back at the home and giving them a donation as well as to the disabled persons, saying his door will always be open for them. He said disabled people were being neglected and left out of national planning projects.
“Despite the fact that disabled people constitute about 10 percent of the country’s population, this figure has failed to translate to resource allocation by central government, a situation which has left those living with disabilities scrambling a few crumbs.”
“Those in authority do not realise that they could also become disabled at any time or incur a medical condition like some among us. We must embrace a culture of tolerance and make concerted efforts among all stake holders to ensure that the burden of people living with disabilities, or with any medical condition is lessened,” said Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai added that such neglect had brought condemnation on the people with the moral fibre eroded to an extent where there had been unprecedented political violence even against disabled persons.
“We condemn violence against defenceless, innocent citizens in the strongest terms,” he said, adding that since the unity government in 2009, government had sought to interact more with those were living under those circumstances.”
He said there was need to find out the needs and challenges of people living with disabilities and HIV and AIDS and to formulate government policies that address them in line with the vision of removing stigma towards such people.
He said he had accepted to be ambassador of the disability in SADC because he believed in the cause of the disabled people.
“As patron I will push for the government to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the United Nations general assembly in 2006. We want the Disabled Persons Act to be implemented in full.”
Among the donated items were blankets and paint.