THE Minister of Social Development, ‘Matebatso Doti, will table the long-awaited Disability Equity Bill before parliament when it opens next month.
The Disability Equity Bill comprises of an array of legal rights for persons with disabilities including rights of physical access, access to services including health, the provision of education and the creation of the Disability Advisory Council.
The disability law has been on the cards for many years but it has not been enacted largely on account of the instability which has seen three governments in the space of five years from 2012 to 2017.
Ms Doti was appointed to the Social Development ministry when the current Thomas Thabane-led coalition came to power in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 elections.
Ms Doti has previously told the Sunday Express that she is keen to pick up from where she left off in 2015 by overseeing the enactment of the Disability Equity Bill as well promoting other policy interventions to improve the welfare of the country’s vulnerable groups.
Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) Director Nkhasi Sefuthi has long complained that “Lesotho did not have legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities”.
“As a result, a lot of human rights violations take place all the time,” Sefuthi recently told the Sunday Express.
“People with disabilities face discrimination and this is happening largely because we lack a clear legal framework to protect and advance their rights.
“At the same time policy makers and government officials do not consider disability as a priority and that poses a big challenge to us because this means that the solutions we are proposing to them will take long to be implemented,” Mr Nkhasi said.
However, this could all change for the better if Ms Doti succeeds in pushing through the Disability Equity Bill which she said was the “answer to all their problems”.
Some steps have already been taken towards the passage of the bill and these include the issuance of a certificate of approval for the bill by the Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo, in May 2018.
After the issuance of the certificate of approval, the bill was presented to the cabinet who also approved it and Mr Nkhasi said the next step was for Ms Doti to table it before parliament next month.
“After Ms Doti has tabled it, the parliamentary Social Cluster Committee will examine the bill and consult the public for its input and thereafter the bill will be presented again in parliament before it is signed into law,” Adv Sefuthi said.
Adv Sefuthi said they were now confident of the enactment of the bill into law after a lot of advocacy by the LNFOD and its partners over the last seven years.
“LNFOD embarked on the journey of advocacy to conscientise cabinet ministers and parliament on the need to enact the Disability Equity Bill to deal with the long-standing inequalities and discrimination of people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities require the full protection of the law through the enactment of the Disability Equity Bill as it is the law which will be used to contextualize the rights of people with disabilities in Lesotho in all aspects of development.
“We convey our deepest gratitude to the Minister of Social Development and the Social Cluster committee for fulfilling their promise to push for the enactment of the Disability Equity Bill,” Adv Sefuthi said.