How many times do the organisations representing and championing the causes of disabled persons have to remind us that “Disability is not inability”?
I ask this question in reference to a statement which appeared in the local press last weekend, attributed to a prominent Parliamentarian here concerning one of his Parliamentary colleagues (names are not the issue). The MP to whom the statement was credited is reported as saying that the colleague of his will not be contesting the next general elections.
The politics behind it is not the major concern of mine though this is what seems to have been generating public discussion. Of far greater importance is the reason given, stated crudely as “If a man can’t walk, how will he run” (for elections)?
Surely, in this day and age, no responsible citizen ought to be making such blatantly discriminatory remarks. Are we saying that because a person has some physical challenge, that person cannot adequately represent people? What does physical disability have to do with one’s capacity to contribute to proper governance?
Our experience has shown that the problems that we have experienced in governance have more to do with mental disability on the part of those entrusted with that task than with any physical challenge on their part. Indeed, some years ago, I was privileged to hold discussions with a candidate for elections who was wheelchair-bound and found him to be far more intelligent than many of those not so physically restricted.
Those in positions of leadership must be far more sensitive to such issues and not contribute to long-standing and erroneous concepts about the abilities of persons who may face such challenges for one reason or another. We need to fight discrimination at all levels.