Lesotho
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People with disability seek inclusion

By Liapeng Raliengoane

MASERU – The Lesotho Network of Development of the Blind (LNDB), an organization representing all the blind and partially sighted people in Lesotho strongly urges the upcoming government to take action in making sure that the United Nations (UN) Convention on the rights of people with disability (CRPD) is implemented and to put into action the Equity Act of 2021.

The Persons with Disability Equity Act was enacted on March 12 2021 in order to provide for equal opportunities and recognition of the rights of persons living with disabilities in Lesotho.

An interview with LNDB Secretary General Themba Gerard Molikoe revealed that, in their manifestos, political parties do say they will uphold all the rights of everyone, including the rights of people with disabilities.

However, Molikoe highlighted that “It is so surprising that in all executive committees of different political parties, for example, main executive committee, Women’s League and Youth’s Leagues, people with disabilities are not represented.  Again, there are committees of women and youth but no committees of people with disabilities, even though we are regarded as a vulnerable and marginalized group.”

He added “How are political parties going to implement issues concerning people with disability without including them from the party level? Nothing for us, without us!”     

Molikoe indicated that as LNDB, they are proud to be representing the marginalized group of persons with disabilities amongst other things. He explained that the overriding purpose of LNDB is to work for full emancipation, social integration and employment of the visually impaired persons of Lesotho. It was formed by the blind people with the purpose of job creation through various self-help projects and is legally registered under the society act of 1966 as a non-profit making organization.

The Convention of rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) is a treaty of over 163 signatories, 185 parties, 184 states and the entire European Union (EU). The main objective of CRPD is to promote, protect and ensure that without reasonable doubt, persons with disabilities have equal enjoyment of all fundamental freedoms enjoyed by all persons, be they disabled or not.

CRPD was adopted on December 13 2006, signed on May 30 2007 but forced into action on May 31 2008. It took 2years for the act to be implemented and Lesotho was number 42 to ratify and support the treaty.

“Though Lesotho signed in support of this law, it was still behind in the implementation. Only between February and March 2021 after LNDB and its co-NGO’S reminded the Lesotho Government of its obligation concerning people with disability was the Equity Act passed by the parliament and signed into action. This was a great achievement because now the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities was domesticated and is only waiting for implementation of all issues on the law,” Molikoe concluded.

On the brighter side, the recent National Assembly Elections in Lesotho saw the Constituency of Maama #45 won by Lesaoana Pitso, who is to become a Member of Parliament (MP) as a person with a disability.