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We Need Braille Ballot Papers in Zimbabwe: Kangarande

By Steve Ephraem

NYANGA- Persons with impairments in Nyanga are crying foul over the unavailability of ballot papers that are inclusive of the disability constituency.

Post On Sunday descended onto Avilla communal lands under Chief Katerere in Nyanga on August 20 to 23  2023 where it had interfaces with Person with Disabilities (PwDs) prior to Zimbabwe’s harmonised elections which were held on 23 August this year.

Long distances between homes of Persons with Disabilities and polling stations was highlighted as a major limiting factor to their participation in the voting process. Others bemoaned Nyanga’s rough terrain as a negative force that discourages them to move to the polling stations.

Post On Sunday managed to speak to a person with visual impairment, who is a former councillor of Nyanga rural ward 2. The former councillor, James Kangarande held his post before getting impaired and left office when he lost his sight.

Kangarande’s case is a clear indication that that society still has no faith in being led by a person with an impairment.

Kangarande also feels that rights of Persons with Disabilities in rural areas are being infringed.

“I am the ward chairperson of the ruling party in ward 2 in Nyanga. Disabilities representation committees tend to comprise of people in urban areas. Those in the rural areas are left out especially at national level. Even if we have burning issues that need attention, our voice is not heard here. Hapana chako kana usipo (Nothing is for you when you are not represented).

“For us with visual impairment, I always ask why we don’t get ballot papers in Braille format.

“It’s very difficult for one to tell an aide to walk with me for more than five kilometres from home to the polling station. Then you tell him to cast the vote on your behalf. How do I even know that the aide has cast the vote on my desiredcouncillor, Member of Parliament and Presidential candidate?” he said.

Asked what he thinks might be the short to long term solution, Kangarande said that there is need for an impaired voters association.

“My proposal is that we should come out with an association for impaired voters. There we would pair a visually impaired voter with another PwD who has good sight so that s/he can help those like myself. As PwDs, we understand each other better and we have similar concerns. But the bottom line remains that we need ballot papers in Braille,” he added.