Monday, March 10, 2014

Physically challenged bemoan failure to get jobs in Solwezi mines
By Vincent Chilikima in Solwezi
Thu 05 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

PEOPLE living with disabilities in Solwezi have bemoaned the lack of employment opportunities in the mines despite their desire and ability to work.

North Western Province chairperson for Zambia Federation of the Blind Godfrey Makwayanga said the disabled were finding it difficult to be employed in the mines. He appealed to the mines to instead consider employing children of the disabled.

Makwayanga's concerns on the lack of employment were echoed by a sketch performed by the hearing impaired during this year's commemoration of the International Day of the Disabled held on Tuesday at Mitukutuku farm for the disabled in Solwezi district.

The sketch depicted how the hearing impaired were being denied employment in the mines and chain stores regardless of technical qualifications acquired for the jobs and therefore felt stigmatised and discriminated against in society.

However, First Quantum Minerals Kansanshi Mine public relations manager Godfrey Msiska said the employment policy of the mines considered the hazardous environment and high safety standards which required employees to be highly alert and swift in movement.

After handing over ten wheel chairs worth K20,000 at the event, Msiska said Kansanshi Mine's philosophy was to empower people in communities where they operate.

And Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) Provincial coordinator Living Ngandwe appealed to the government and well wishers to revamp the 312 hectares Mitukutuku Farm.

Ngandwe explained that the UNIP government had built structures at the farm for training disabled people in farming and carpentry, adding that many disabled people had realised meaningful livelihoods from the now defunct facility.

Meanwhile, North Western Province permanent secretary Augustine Seyuba said the government was committed to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities.

Officiating at the function on behalf of Seyuba, deputy permanent secretary Alfred Chingi said government had come up with a new disability Act No. 6 of 2012 to ensure that the rights and welfare of people with disabilities were taken care of.

He disclosed that government had increased the grant for ZAPD in the 2014 budget and further removed customs duty on imported equipment and vehicles for the disabled adding.

Seyuba also said the disabled were being given priority attention in accessing farming inputs under government's Food Security Pack programme being implemented by the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health.

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