Launch of the Disability Reform Coalition

14 Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) in Zimbabwe have come together under the banner of the Disability Reform Coalition to promote and advocate for the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in elections and electoral processes in Zimbabwe.

The goal of the non-partisan coalition is to increase the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes by removing barriers that hinder their full participation in elections as voters and as candidates. The country has progressive policies on disability rights but there is need for inclusion in practice and policy on electoral processes.

Persons with disabilities continue to experience voter disqualification due to lack of necessary accommodations within the electoral systems which infringes on their right to vote. Persons with disabilities have been left in the periphery of society and do not equally participate in elections as their non-disabled counterparts due to political, legal, social and communications barriers that exist in electoral processes.

The coalition will advocate for reform in policy and practice as they relate to the secrecy of the vote for persons with disabilities, the provision of reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities in electoral processes such as the provision of tactile ballots, clearly designed voting queues for persons with disabilities, disability inclusion training for electoral officials and provision of Sign Language in electoral processes such as voter education.

The coalition also seeks to encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in elections as candidates through running for office. By increasing the quality of political participation for persons with disabilities through engagement with relevant stakeholders, Disability Reform Coalition will foster more inclusive and accessible electoral processes and will ensure that the voices of persons with disabilities are amplified.

Source: Disability Reform Coalition

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