Zuma appoints first visually impaired Cabinet member

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has been commended for appointing South Africa's first visually impaired female cabinet member.

Businesswoman and motivational speaker Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu was appointed Deputy Minister of Public Works on Sunday. She is partially sighted.

"The appointment of a visually impaired female to Cabinet in the position of Deputy Minister is a first," said Access Programme Manager at the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB), Madalein Greyling.

"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."

Ms Greyling told BuaNews that Ms Bogopane-Zulu's appointment would bring hope to people living with disabilities and would give the sector a voice. She said the council would put its full weight behind the new minister.

She said her appointment was much deserved.

"She has, on many occasions, stood as a powerful voice campaigning for our sector's cause. We are overjoyed that this voice will now be heard amongst many."

Ms Bogopane-Zulu helped develop the human resource guidelines included in the Employment Equity Act and has also contributed to the review and development of the European Union's policies on disability in Brussels.

Last month, visually impaired South Africans made use of a Braille template in the country's fourth democratic elections, allowing them to cast their votes without assistance for the first time.

The templates were produced in Cape Town and South Africa is the second country, after Japan, to produce such a model.