Deputy Minister speaks about her challenges

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy Minister of Public Works, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu has spoken openly about her challenges as a partially sighted woman.

Speaking at the South African National Council for the Blind in Pretoria on Wednesday, the deputy minister said her inability to recognise faces and having to distinguish people by their voices was a major concern for her in her new post.

"The first three months are going to be a little turbulent," said Ms Bogopane-Zulu, who also has two disabled children and is expected to employ her husband as her driver and guide.

During her first Cabinet meeting with President Jacob Zuma earlier this week, she said she had been presented with Braille documents.

She said she had an obligation to serve disabled people. "I'm in the job to learn and represent a sector that has been disregarded," she told reporters.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu said during her tenure as deputy minister, she would focus on improving access to employment opportunities for disabled people as well as ensuring that inclusive education for disabled children becomes a reality.

"The issue of employment, including the participation of disabled people, as well as access to employment is a real issue," said Ms Bogopane-Zulu.

She highlighted that public buildings must be fitted with facilities for disabled people and that the department would successfully run the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) which aims to create more jobs and training opportunities for people.

Deputy Chairperson of the council, Advocate Lucky Bokaba described Ms Bogopane-Zulu as a hard worker.

"I am glad for my sister. I have confidence in her that she will uphold the plight of the blind. Many people have the habit of doubting the ability of blind people. The ability is in the head and not eyes," said Mr Bokaba.