By CAPITAL FM… Calls for inclusivity in appointments to public office and reforms on the existing laws with regard to the rights of people with disability, dominated a retreat by the Kenya Disability Parliamentary Association (KEDIPA).
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi fired the first salvo when he called on Kenyans to champion for the right of representation in decision making in all arms of government, with the same zeal gender representation was championed.
Speaking at a two-day retreat for Members of Parliament Living with Disability in Mombasa, Muturi noted that although people living with disability have a guaranteed right to recognition with dignity as envisaged under Article 54 of the Constitution of Kenya, more should be done for their increased representations across the governance spectrum, including Parliament.
“Let the same vigour applied for the enforcement of Articles 27 and 54 with regards to the Rights of the People Living with Disability be employed to ensure their representation in decision making, more so in Parliament is enhanced. Let us champion for this Right as we have done on gender representation”, the Speaker said.
He revealed that his passion for the cause of the people with disability was because he was brought up by a relative, who was physically challenged.
Westlands MP Tim Wanyonyi who chairs the Parliamentary group, noted that there is need to improve the provisions of the existing Disability Act, in a bid to align it with the realities of the Constitution.
The Caucus Members urged the Speaker in his capacity as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to facilitate the mainstreaming of disability issues around Parliament.
They also raised concerns in regards to the accessibility of people with disability around Parliament and hoped that the new Parliamentary Towers, which is under construction, will have a provision for their easy access.
The Speaker had earlier acknowledged that Parliament recognizes the existence of the forum, but challenged the caucus to instigate a change in the Standing Orders to change the provision that requires a caucus to have at least 10 members for its establishment. Currently, KEDIPA has a membership of 8, which the Speaker noted is understandable.
Wanyonyi further called for more appointments in public office for people living with disability, noting that their affairs should no longer be addressed as charitable needs.
“Although Kenya had done a lot in protecting the Rights of People Living with Disability, there is need to anchor our issues in legislation so as to safeguard them. The Caucus Members in the National Assembly will use their influence to advocate for budgetary allocation and advocate for measures to promote programs for people with disability,” he stated.
The association has pledged to push for amendments to the law to provide for tax rebates that can benefit companies which employ people living disability, so as to encourage more firms to embrace a workforce that is inclusive.
Labour and Social Welfare Chief Administrative Secretary Abdul Bahari assured the special interest group of the government’s support, noting that his ministry had developed a National Disability Strategy, and was working with the National Council for Persons with Disability to identify the actual demographics of citizens with disability in Kenya.
He was responding to calls by members for inclusion of a specific query on the number of people with disability in all households in Kenya, in the forthcoming National Census slated for August, 2019.
Nominated MPs Dennitah Ghati and David Ole Sankok called on the media to be at the forefront in highlighting issues regarding people living with disability, as well as their successes noting that this would encourage them to participate in the development of the nation and ultimately in the growth of the economy.
KEDIPA Founding Chairman, Nominated Senator, Isaac Mwaura reiterated the call for more resources towards supporting programs for people living with disability, and urged for Parliament’s support towards the establishment of a fully-fledged secretariat for the organization.