Malawi gov’t gazettes Disability Act, Minister sends warning shot

Government has finally gazetted the Disability Act, making it enforceable, Minister of Persons with Disabilities and Elderly Affairs, Rachel Kachaje confirmed.

There has been outcry by Federation for Disability Organization in Malawi (Fedoma) on government’s failure to gazette the Act approved by parliament in May last year.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, Kachaje said the Act was gazetted last month, putting to end concerns raised by Fedoma and its members.

“The Clerk of Parliament told me during the just recent meeting of Parliament that now the Act has been gazetted, making it enforceable,” Kachaje said.

Kachaje: Bill Gazetted
Kachaje: Bill Gazetted

The minister has since warned to prosecute those violating rights of disabled people since the Act is now operational.

Kachaje said: “Now the Act is a recognizable law, we will not let perpetrators and those violating rights of disabled walk scort-free. Now we are mandated prosecute anybody who breaks the law including institution who are defying universal construction standards when constructing their building to accommodate the disabled”.

Fedoma has been complaining that observes the delay to gazette the Act, which tantamount to continued victimization of people with disabilities.

The Act took almost eight years before being tabled in Parliament last year.

Meanwhile, Fedoma has asked for repeal of the Handicapped Person’s Act which Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) has been operating on since its inception in 1971 but is currently outdated.

“The Act was made at a time when disability was viewed as a charity and not a rights issue. To streamline it to the new law, it needs to be repealed and replaced with a new legislation,” explained Fedoma Executive Director, Mussa Chiwaula.

Chiwaula observed that National Policy on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities which came into effect in 2006 needs to be reviewed so that it is in tandem with the new Act.

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