Disability Rights Watch want mentally unsound people allowed to stand as president

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—The Disability Rights Watch says justice will only be accessible to persons with disability if courtrooms and other institutions dealing with legal and justice matters are modified and equipped with facilities that are conducive for the blind, deaf, dumb and physically challenged persons.

And the Disability Rights Watch has submitted to the Legal and Justice Sector Reform Commission that the law on the qualification of a presidential aspirant should be reviewed so that people with unsound minds should be allowed to vie for presidency in Zambia.

In their submissions to the commission, which conducted public sittings in Garden Compound on Tuesday this week, President of the Disability Rights Watch, Wamundila Waliuya, told the commission that justice is not accessible to persons with disabilities because courtrooms in Zambia are not friendly to them as the structures have no assistive devices for them.

Mr Waliuya disclosed that people who are physically challenged cannot access the courts in their current state because they have steep stairs while the deaf, dumb and the blind have also been disadvantage because courts do not have facilities to aid their communication with
the adjudicators and lawyers.

He recommended that all the courts in Zambia should be modified as stipulated in the United Nations Convention of Rights of Persons with Disability which Zambia has ratified.

The Disability Rights Watch leader also called for the quick release of the current draft constitution claiming that persons with disability made progressive submissions to the committee drafting the constitution which he said might guarantee the rights of persons with
disability if enacted.

Meanwhile, the Disability Rights Watch caused laughter when they demanded that the qualification for aspirants for the position of republican presidency should be revisited that people of unsound mind are accommodated.

Mr Waliuya stated that the clause that states that a person of unsound mind shall not be eligible to stand as president in Zambia is discriminatory against persons with mental disability hence the need to change it so that people should have the right either to vote for them or reject them during elections.

He noted that some of the citizens of unsound mind are very popular in some areas and have the potential of winning elections but are obstructed by the constitutional clause.

He also disclosed that his organisation has already engaged the Ministry of Health to ensure that the Mental Disorder Act is repealed so that persons with disability are not discriminated.

But Director of Public Prosecutions, Mutembo Nchito, who was sitting was Deputy Chairperson of the Commission in the absence of Attorney General, Musa Mwenye, explained that the clause is not meant to discriminate persons with mental disability but merely meant to ensure that only mentally upright people ascend to the highest position of
the land.

He observed that the law is fair as it allows persons with unsound mind to participate in election by allowing them to cast votes although some clause forbid people with unsound mind the right to contract as they do not think straight so that they would make uninformed decisions.