Participation of persons with disabilities in the formulation of economic empowerment policies in Zimbabwe: The case of Harare.
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This thesis examines the extent to which persons with disabilities participate in the formulation of economic empowerment policies in Zimbabwe. To this effect, two disability categories have been chosen namely visual impairment and albinism. These disability types have been chosen largely because voices from literature coupled with anecdotal evidence show that besides impairments, they are not subject to any chronic physiological or mental challenges likely to militate against the performance of life tasks considered normal in any civilized society. Using a qualitative methodology, the study was largely informed by a combination of in-depth interviews from twenty participants, two focus group discussions each with persons with visual impairments and albinism respectively, ethnographic information collected at workshops, seminars and symposia on disability as well as a detailed literature search of theses, dissertations, papers, reports and books on participation, disability, empowerment and policy formulation. Research findings revealed that persons with disabilities were not effectively represented in the national political and administrative structures of government. It was however acknowledged that in spite of their limited number, parliamentarians representing persons with disabilities were trying their level best to push forward the disability agenda. Research findings further showed that in societies where the political and economic participation of persons with disabilities is promoted such as the case of South Africa, the lives of persons with disabilities have tended to improve. The study further revealed that civil society organisations tended to exclude persons with disabilities both within their administrative and programmatic structures simply on account of negative social attitudes including perceived incapacity. As a result, persons with disabilities played a peripheral role in civil society organisations’ programme activities. there was a tendency for civil society organisations to leave disability matters to Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs). The study also revealed that disabled persons organizations experienced administrative, financial and technical challenges. The need to mainstream disability within mainstream organisations as is the case with gender was therefore emphasized. Similarly, the study unearthed numerous endogenous and exogenous barriers militating against the quest of persons with disabilities to participate in the political and economic life of the country. These include poor education, myths and misconceptions surrounding disability, political violence, low self-esteem and confidence as well as lack of unity and technical expertise within the disability movement. The study however revealed that persons with disabilities had the zeal and sense of agency to improve their situation. In view of these findings, recommendations were passed.