Disability group stages walkout on eve of Zuma’s address to summit
Saying it had no choice‚ the South African Disability Alliance (SADA) staged a walkout from the Disability Caucus on Wednesday on the eve of President Jacob Zuma’s opening address to the Disability Rights Summit.
The address was to represent the launch of the Presidential Working Group on Disability in Irene near Pretoria.
SADA said it was forced to withdraw from the Disability Caucus in view of the refusal by Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) to discuss a letter addressed to SADA.
It said a Disability Caucus meeting on September 29 2015 had resolved that DPSA and SADA needed to meet to address differences affecting the relationship between the organisations. A meeting between the two was also called in view of pressure from the government for a single unified voice for persons with disabilities.
“SADA attempted over many years and more intensively during the past six months to meet with Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) to work closely in the interest of persons with disabilities. SADA’s attempts have been rejected by DPSA. However‚ SADA strongly supports the principles of democracy and the freedom of association and will continue with its advocacy work in representing‚ promoting and protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities in South Africa‚” SADA said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that it was regularly portrayed by DPSA as an organisation not representative of persons with disability‚ yet SADA members and their respective affiliates throughout South Africa provided programmes‚ projects and activities in terms of advocacy‚ empowerment‚ development and rehabilitation services for the inclusion of tens of thousands of persons with disabilities (including members of DPSA) in civic‚ economic‚ cultural‚ sports‚ social and political life.
“SADA endorses the general principles of dignity; autonomy; participation‚ inclusion and accessibility; respect for difference; non-discrimination and equality as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities‚ the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (particularly the Bill of Rights) and the recently approved Cabinet White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and consider these as core international and national instruments for the promotion and protection of human rights for persons with disabilities.
“SADA members and their affiliates are recognised by State Departments in all three spheres of Government‚ including the Departments of Social Development‚ Health‚ Labour‚ Basic Education and Higher Education‚ as well as the SA Human Rights Commission and Independent Electoral Commission‚” the organisation said.
It added it would not be distracted from its mandate to “advocate for the human rights of persons with disabilities including the provision of services to improve quality of life for both persons with disabilities and their families”.
“SADA therefore calls upon Government to recognise the right of SADA in respect of representation‚ dignity‚ autonomy‚ participation‚ inclusion and accessibility‚ respect for difference‚ non-discrimination and equality and not constantly insist on the disability sector being represented by a single organisation.”
SADA’s membership includes 16 national disability organisations.
The member organisations are:
- Autism SA‚
- Blind SA‚
- Cheshire Homes SA‚
- DeafBlind SA‚
- Deaf Federation of SA (DeafSA)‚
- Disabled Children's Action Group (DICAG)‚
- Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA)‚
- Epilepsy SA‚
- Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of SA (MDSA)‚
- National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy (NAPCP)‚
- National Council for People with Physical Disabilities in SA (NCPPDSA)‚
- QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA)‚
- SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH)‚
- SA National Association of Blind and Partially Sighted Persons (SANABP)‚
- SA National Council for the Blind (SANCB)
- SA National Deaf Association (SANDA)
The associate members of SADA are the Occupational Therapy Association of SA (OTASA) and the SA Association of Audiology (SAAA).