Cape Town – Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu says her disabled children have motivated her to keep fighting to make the lives of people with disabilities in South Africa better.
The Deputy Minister’s message, delivered at the Southern Sun Cape Sun Hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday night, touched guests who attended her department’s National Disability Awards.
Delivering her keynote address ahead of handing out awards to abled and disabled people, who have contributed immensely to improving access for people living with disabilities across various sectors, the Minister said the past 20 years have been a journey filled with ups and downs for the country and her department.
“I always say there are days that I just want to walk away, but as a parent of two disabled children who are waiting for me at home, I always say to myself I am actually doing it for my children and that keeps me going because I always aim to create a better South Africa,” she said.
Tuesday night’s ceremony was the second that the department held ever since launching the awards in 2009.
The theme for the awards - which were held in partnership with INSETA with Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) sponsoring the awards – was Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology, and many recipients of awards in various categories received an assistive device that is tailor-made to make their disability more manageable.
In an interview after the awards, the Deputy Minister said over the past 20 years, a lot of progress has been made to improve the lives of people living with disabilities through social inclusion.
“Disabled people were seen as welfare cases. They were put in institutions, denied access to education and seen as people who needed to be looked after.
“After 20 years of freedom, South African Parliament has had more than 40 members of Parliament with disabilities, had Ministers and had Deputy Ministers, have disabled people employed across different spheres, have judges in the different courts, magistrates…” she said.
She said the country had moved from an era where people with disabilities were never employed and when they were subjected to receiving nothing but grants.
“…but today people with disabilities, we are at 1.6% in government close to our 2%, and the private sector a lot of companies have surpassed the 2% intake.
“Disabled people are owning businesses, they are also getting the famous things called tenders like everybody else and they are also growing their businesses. They have access to financing for disabled entrepreneurs, which is something we never used to have,” she said.
“We are at 85% of access to education for children with disabilities and at Social Development we are increasing, we are at 25% of Early Childhood Development (ECD) access and we will be at 50% by March 2015. So there is a lot of progress in terms of people with disabilities.” – SAnews.gov.za