The right to participate in politics and public life is well-established in human rights law and should be upheld and respected for persons with disabilities. The Disability Reform Coalition appreciates the great work being done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through stakeholder engagements in order to improve electoral processes in Zimbabwe. We also acknowledge the Elections Roadmap published by the Commission understanding that initial dates will be announced by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
As the nation prepares for the 2022 by-elections there is urgent need to remove barriers that impede the full participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes. The upcoming by-elections serve as a barometer of change in elections as they provide a preview of the state of readiness of the country to fully accommodate and include persons with disabilities in the electoral and political processes. Creating an enabling environment in the 2022 by-elections will ensure that persons with disabilities have a say in the democratic governance of the country.
The Disability Reform Coalition key asks to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission include:
- Disaggregating statistics on disability in voter registration
- Provision of mobile registration booths and deliberately targeting persons with disabilities
- Access to voter registration, delimitation and voter education information in accessible formats such as Braille and Sign Language for person with disabilities
- Provision of tactile ballots to guarantee the right to secret ballot for voters with visual impairments
- Capacitating public service staff to be able to assist persons with disabilities at polling stations and inclusion of persons with disabilities as poling officers
- Deliberate and direct efforts to provide voter education and information to persons with disabilities in rural areas to foster the participation of persons with disabilities in electoral processes
- Ensuring that all polling stations have disability friendly booths , clearly signed queues and disability friendly infrastructure
Source: Disability Reform Coalition