Schlettwein forgot the disabled in his budget

31 Mar 2018 06:50am

Deputy Minister of disability affairs in the presidency, Alexia Manombe-Ncube said the lack of mention of disabled peoples in the national budget by the finance minister, Calle Schlettwein, brought a bigger disappointment to the disability section of society. 

This comes in the wake of the country being estimated to have approximately 108 992 people with disabilities who represent 5% of the total population.

Manombe-Ncube said the specific allocation of the 2018/19 budget for disability affairs was nothing but not enough. 

“The only mention this sector finds (in the budget speech) is in reference to the social safety nets, but one needs to remember that disability is not a unilateral issue, changes in allocations for education or health directly affect the disability sector,” said the deputy minister. 

The social sector took up about half of the budget, with the share of the allocation standing at 49.2 percent and averaging around this level over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which is N$28.8 billion in FY2018/19 or N$86.9 billion over the MTEF.

Poverty eradication and social welfare had an increased allocation of N$3.4 billion, 3.7 percent more than the revised allocation for the previous year and about N$10.6 billion. ?

Manombe-Ncube had to further engage with Schlettewein who agreed to an additional allocation through the ministry of higher education to the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) in order to meet individual needs of students with disabilities. 

Expressing her pleasure at this move, the deputy minister also said government had failed to budget expenditure to meaningful implementation of laws and policies on disability that are enacted in all earnestness. 

“Ideally and as in line with the National Disability Act, the national planning commission in achieving its objectives in collaboration with all ministries have to carefully scrutinise all different ministries’ plans and programs to ensure that they include the needs of people with disabilities before acknowledging and approving them,” she said.

She added that advocacy effort must focus across ministries to ensure that their service delivery design is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.  

“All these efforts therefore may prove challenging as government mandate, but influencing this mandate seems difficult given the failure to recognise the disability sector as a lobby significance.” 

“Namibia is obliged to report on compliance with committees on the rights of people with disabilities and human rights bodies for state obligations, which includes the allocation of maximum possible resources towards respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights under the convention,” she said.  

However, in spite of challenges, she said Namibia had made strides and has been recognised by the international community while in June 2017, the country was honored and awarded a disability ambassadorial country status.

“The award was given in recognition of her significant progress and commitment to mainstream disability, programs, budget and for commitment to sign/domesticate Africa’s legal policies, instruments and human rights, including the Namibian government’s leadership role in the adoption of the protocol to the African charter for human and people’s rights on the rights of persons with disabilities,” she said.