Disabled people can also be productive, says deputy minister

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pretoria - Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu says her appointment as Deputy Minister of Public Works is an indication that disabled people can also be productive.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu, who is partially sighted, was sworn-in as a member of President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet during a ceremony at the Presidential Guesthouse on Monday.

She was assisted in taking her oath of office by Justice Kate O'Regan.

"Being appointed as the first disabled Cabinet member gives the sector confirmation that they also matter and that they also have opportunities without barriers," Ms Bogopane-Zulu told BuaNews.

The former businesswoman and motivational speaker said there was much to be done within her department, including creating jobs and building hospitals.

"It's about creating a better South Africa, including for those who live with disabilities. It requires being able to respond at the required speed," said Ms Bogapane-Zulu.

The South African National Council for the Blind has commended Mr Zuma for appointing South Africa's first visually impaired female Cabinet member, saying that it will bring hope to disabled people.

"The South African National Council for the Blind applauds the Presidency's decision in this regard as it shows their belief that disability does not signal inability."

Last month, visually impaired South Africans were able to use a Braille template to cast their ballots in the country's fourth democratic elections. This allowed them to vote without assistance for the first time.