Pretoria - Government has developed a framework outlining specific measures local government can take to include people with disabilities into its workforce so they can actively participate in service delivery.
The Disability Framework for Local Government was launched by the Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sicelo Shiceka, along with the Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Chairperson of South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Amos Masondo in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Speaking at the launch, Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Amos Masondo said the framework would set guidelines for all spheres of government to take into account the interests and needs of the disabled.
"Our aim is to help ensure the championing of disability rights and create and empower persons with disabilities. We also seek to help mainstream disability in all activities and programmes in local governments and in municipalities," Mr Masondo said.
The framework, during its implementation, will ensure that at least two percent of staff positions, including middle and senior management in local government, are allocated to qualified people with disabilities by March 2010.
Many provinces are faced with a lack of systems and capacity to aid the disabled. The policy framework will therefore seek to ensure that disability issues are incorporated into local government programmes, policies, projects and activities.
Minister Shiceka said persons with disabilities were among the most vulnerable in communities. "Disabled women and children are the most likely to be neglected, ignored, isolated and therefore subjected to abusive tendencies."
He said government had a responsibility to eliminate disability discrimination in the public service.
"With this framework, government rejects the notion of accommodating persons with disabilities through paternalistic tendencies that are devoid of empowerment measures and thus perpetuating stereotypes and fostering dependency," he explained.
The framework will go a long way in removing the barriers to equal participation and the elimination of discrimination based on disability.
To be implemented between 2009 to 2014, the framework follows months of consultative processes across the country and research by the department in partnership with SALGA.
Plans have been put in place to include funding for the framework in the 2009/10 financial year.
The framework's mandate has been extracted from the National Disability Framework that was led by the Presidency and was in line with United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Speaking at the launch, the Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said despite the existing challenges, South Africa had made significant progress in the protection and promotion of the human rights of people living with disabilities.
She said South Africans must reflect on the progress made by the government in the past 14 years of democracy and work together to empower the lives of people with disabilities and the institutions working with the disabled.
The National Disability Policy, which will enhance programmes and frameworks intended to aid the disabled, has been drafted and will be taken to Cabinet.