Current Advocacy Programmes

After the first democratic elections in 1994 and South Africa’s transition into democracy, the disability sector elected not to follow the Americans in having a “Disability Act”.

Through a consultative process with the disability sector, the government then developed the Integrated National Disability Strategy (INDS) document. This policy provided the backbone for integrating the rights of persons with disabilities into mainstream legislation, and policies of all departments.

Since democracy in 1994 and changes in legislation, the NCPPDSA is of the opinion that South Africa currently has the best set of legislation which is not discriminatory, barrier free and is inclusive of persons with disabilities. It is however noted, that South Africa falls short in the implementation of this legislation in terms of providing true equality for persons with disabilities.

During the tenure of President Nelson Mandela, “disability” was placed in the Office on the Status of Disabled People (OSDP) which was a direct focus area for government. “Disability” was later moved to the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, during the first term of current President Jacob Zuma. This move lowered the status of persons with disabilities in the eyes of various departments and the general public and created the perception that disability was no longer a presidential priority.

After the subsequent election, “disability” was moved to the Department of Social Development. This move left the entire Disability sector feeling as though they had moved back decades. The implications of moving “disability” to the Department of Social Development was that the other departments no longer viewed “disability” as a matter for all departments to budget for and ensure full integration eg tourism, transport and economic development. Disability has once again been marginalised to being a welfare issue.

Latest Developments

Government has taken the lead in developing, in consultation with the Disability Sector and other key stakeholders, a much stronger Disability Rights Policy for South Africa which is based on The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). While many NGOs and persons with disabilities feel that the energy and resources in developing this, should rather be focussed on the implementation of mainstream legislation regarding the rights of persons with disabilities. It is however, inevitable that the majority will support the act, in the hope that the lives of persons with disabilities will finally improve.
It is not ideal in today’s world to have a separate policy for a certain segment of the population especially when we are trying to promote equality and inclusiveness. But many persons with disabilities face may barriers to exist in mainstream society such as not having an accessible public transport system and many children with disabilities are not in a formal school system. Also the exclusion of persons with disabilities can be seen in hotels receiving a five star rating but are totally inaccessible and a municipality can get a blue flag status for a Beach which is non-compliant with any legislation that calls for equality. The President will soon announce an Advisory Committee to advise on disability rights and implementation matters. This Advisory committee will consist of NGOs in the field of disability as well as expert individuals with disability. We positively welcome this development!