SEVERAL people with disabilities, especially those who use wheelchairs for mobility have appealed to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to design voting booths suitable for them.
Joyce Togarepi from National Council of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (NCDPZ) who casted her vote at Takunda B Primary School Mkoba Gweru narrated that she had to struggle to get to the polling station.
“Yesterday I was very happy to exercise my right as a Zimbabwean but at the same time the station was not easily accessible, “said Togarepi.
She added the classroom did not allow smooth movement for her wheelchair as it had some holes.
“This proves that they ignored the disability people ‘s plight because the classroom floor was not suitable at all but i managed to cast my vote,”she said.
Audrey Rusike from Quardraplegics and Paraplegics Association of Zimbabwe (QPAZ) highlighted that despite the challenges she faced with her wheelchair to reach the polling station she was assisted with the polling officers .
“The polling officers assisted me with my wheelchair and asked other voters to wait outside so that i can have my privacy since my wheelchair could not fit in the booth,”she said . The ballot papers which were being used did not cater for the visually impaired as there was no brail . Sijabulile Tongo a visually impaired man from ward 7 said his right was infringed as he was not sure if his aid had put an X where he wanted.
“I feel ZEC should put a brail section so that I can cast my vote confidently yes I was assisted but this is not fair our government must know that we exist,” he said .
Nyasha Mahwende Director for Young Voices said there is need to channel resources towards people with disabilities so that they are not left behind .
“We continue to cry for accessible polling stations in Mambo Ward 7 there were no rumps for wheelchair users more resources should be channeled to PWDs,”said Mahwende.
Meanwhile the other issue of concern which was raised on the election day was capacitation of polling officers with sign language for easy communication with the the deaf community .