DPM responds to disabled man’s letter to the editor on SODV

DPM Themba Masuku

BY : Senator Themba Masuku (Deputy Prime Minister)

Let me thank the Swaziland News editor for affording me an opportunity to respond to this concern. This is the kind of cooperation we request from the media, to be given the right to respond. I understand and appreciate the hurt and frustration that this individual is Expressing and would suggest that he visits my office so that we can discuss and find solutions to this challenge. My office is always ready to listen to anybody, so that we can practice our social welfare mandate the best we can. I have practiced the difficult open door policy all my life. We can only improve if and when we get told about the gaps in situations such as this that you have raised. Persons with disabilities are an important sector in government set of priorities. I noted that recently, in 2018, the office of the Deputy Prime Minister succeeded in putting through parliament the Persons With Disabilities Bill that became law in 2018. I started this bill personally in my 2008-2013-service term. It is also important to note that we are going to cover other population sector on this SODV act. So I invite you to my office as soon as you can. Give me a call or just come through when you have the time so we can arrange the discussion of the SODVA. We have actually come a long way in trying to get persons with hearing disabilities to enjoy their rights. This includes the establishment of the deaf school in the Lubombo region. The nation has also made efforts to train front line civil servants who are in national service positions. For example,in the police service, civil registration, health and other areas. Of course these efforts are not enough, but Emaswati are trying. Another positive step was taken to provide sign language (SL) during TV news reading. We are now working tirelessly to have SL in national events. Small steps, but we are getting there. I recall when we used to have derogatory names such as "tichwala" to refer to persons with various types of disabilities. We have worked hard as a Nation to change this and we now have a new and appropriate name "people with disabilities". Patience, appreciation, encouragement and communication are key to achieving and guaranteeing human rights for all. My office and personal commitment will help move forward.

LETTER TO EDITOR: Government must stop sidelining deaf people


I cannot be a voice of the voiceless, but I can distinguish between right and wrong. Deaf people seem to be the most suffering disabled people compared to others. They suffer in many ways, especially in accessing information. Nowadays, the DPM and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are busy teaching about SODV Act through various media platforms including TVs, Radios, and newspapers and out-reach awareness about SODV. They are educating the Nation so that they become aware of SODV. Since we are Deaf, we feel we are left out in all these developments. We are left out in many educational projects because we lack the knowledge due to lack of communication and information. The most hurtful part is that we are even unable to access information from television, radio and booklets. Seeing the DPM preaching about SODV without Sign Language interpreter is very painful because his office is the department tasked with ensuring the welfare for all disability people in Eswatini. I feel he is being unfair to the Deaf Community because he is moving around the country preaching about SODV awareness without SL interpreters. As disabled people, whenever we see the DPM, we see our Deaf fingerprint. From my experience many Deaf people get arrested, despite that they are ignorant of the law. For example, since the SODV was signed into law, no one has bothered to educate us about this Act. But once we are caught on the wrong side of the law, we would be punished. I always ask myself; for how long are we going to suffer because it seems like no one cares about us. Its’ high time, people with disabilities participate in all decision-making structures like Parliament.