The Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare has launched the 2018 MACOHA Flag Week beginning on 19th November until 23rd November under the theme “Stakeholders Awareness Towards the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Tripartite Elections”. This theme brings to light the importance of including persons with disabilities in the forthcoming tripartite elections.
Speaking during the Inauguration of the Flag Week ceremony the new Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Cecelia Chazama explained that The Flag Week will help to raise awareness on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all election plans and programming so that they participate freely without barriers. She added that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has been working with disability organizations to come with messages to help and encourage persons with disabilities to participate in the 2019 tripartite elections.
The Minister further revealed that Government in liaison with Malawi Electoral Commission and other stakeholders are working on providing a conducive environment for those who would like to participate in the forth coming elections. For example ensuring the provision of braille voting materials for persons with visual impairment are adequately available because Persons with disabilities face challenges participating in various activities due to environmental barriers.
“Let me assure persons with disabilities in Malawi that the Government is aware of the challenges you face and that my Ministry is effusively committed to ensure that persons with disabilities are fully included in the elections cycle so that they exercise their right to vote.” Said Chazama.
The Minister added that as a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government is fully committed to ensure that persons with disability enjoy their basic rights. In this regard, my Ministry recently launched the National Disability Mainstreaming Strategy and is finalizing the review of the Disability Act of 2012.
Through the Disability Act; the government is mandated to guarantee the participation of persons with disability in political and public life by creating a conducive environment for effective exercise of their political rights through self-representation. The Government is mandated to achieve this by ensuring the voting procedures, facilities and materials are disability friendly, Protecting the rights to freely vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendum, Ensuring that persons with disabilities have the right to stand for elections, hold and perform all functions of public office and Guaranteeing their right to vote for persons of their choice where necessary to be assisted by a person of their choice.
In his remarks The Board Chairperson for MACOHA, Reverend Chitsulo reported that with proceeds from the 2017 flag week, a full irrigation system was constructed for visually impaired farmers in Ndakwera; Chikhwawa and then appealed to the private sector, non-governmental organizations, donor agencies and members of the general public to contribute generously towards the 2018 flag week.