Namibia: Kamwi 'Paralysing' Disability Council
Kamwi 'Paralysing' Disability Council
MINISTER of Health Richard Kamwi has been blamed for the paralysis at the National Disability Council (NDC).
National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN) secretary general Gerson Mutendere said at a media briefing in Windhoek on Tuesday that Kamwi has failed to fulfil his legal responsibility by ignoring a request to nominate new councillors for the NDC after the term of office of the old councillors expired.
Mutendere said that, in terms of the National Disability Council Act, the Health Minister is required to nominate councillors for the NDC, and that he was informed in writing in June this year that the term of office of the current councillors was due to end at the end of August.
"We requested the Minister to call for the nominations as provided by the Act, however the Minister ignored our call, and as a result the Council is now defunct," Mutendere said.
The absence of leadership at the council means that payment of creditors, salaries to staff, and rental of office space cannot be done. Furthermore, Mutendere said that strategic decisions and council resolutions cannot be implemented and as such the interests of people with disabilities are compromised.
The NFPDN secretary general has laid the blame for all this, including the fact that the council risks not having an appropriate budget based on its strategic plan for the 2012/2013 financial year, squarely at Kamwi's door.
"This clearly indicates the ignorance and lack of interest of the Minister in the issues of the disabled," Mutendere said, adding that Kamwi is constantly being ill-informed by staff who lack both the skills and knowledge to deal with people with disabilities.
Member of Parliament (MP) Alexia Ncube was also present at the media briefing and said that she had tried to advise Kamwi on disability issues, but questioned whether her advice had been disregarded because "it came from an MP with a disability."
She said that the NDC had repeatedly attempted to engage the Health Minister to discuss these issues, but stated that he had been unwilling to meet with them.
Mutendere charged that Kamwi and his staff had displayed a lack of respect for and an inability to listen to people with disabilities and "that is why we said that the disability issue is misplaced and need urgent relocation to the Office of the Prime Minister".
Turning his attention to the NDC's director, Martin Limbo, Mutendere said that the NFPDN "acknowledges the mistake made by the council in appointing a director without a disability".
Mutendere further said Limbo is in league with bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health who have shown a lack of interest in disability issues.
Mutendere called on the NDC to ensure that a person with a disability as well as the necessary expertise, skills and knowledge is appointed to head the council.
Despite his damning indictment, Mutendere said that it had not been the wish of the NDC to address the matter through the media, and stated that the council remains open for consultation with the Health Minister on these issues.
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