The Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation, Dr. Otiko Afisah Djaba has entreated the Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) not to site their polling centres at undesirable places where persons with physical disabilities cannot easily access to cast their votes in the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.
According to the former Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, it is expected of the EC to provide an enabling environment for all eligible voters including the persons with disability to vote in the next polls.
She indicated that there had been several instances in previous years where some visually impaired, cripples and aged people had failed to participate in national elections and registration exercises due to the inaccessible nature of the centres.
She complained that sometimes the election officers deliberately mount their tables on higher grounds and places suitable for them (like school verandas or high balconies) in order to get shades without considering the plights of the physically challenged persons.
Speaking in an interview with the media on the sidelines of the official launch of 1000 wheelchairs and walking aids per region held in Accra, Dr. Otiko Djaba said it is not most appropriate for EC to disenfranchise or discourage any person from participating in the election.
The Executive Director of the Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation also suggested to the Electoral Commission to include at least one person with disability in the recruitment of polling agents for each polling station in the upcoming elections.
According to her, the inclusion of PWDs would not only ensure all inclusive electoral process but would also increase the confidence of the disabled and other vulnerable persons to fully participate in the election.
Dr. Afisah Djaba lamented how some of EC officials and members of the society at the last registration exercise mishandled some PWDs, the aged, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups.
“Most at times people abuse, marginalize and disrespect other people because of their peculiar conditions. So if we have a person with disability among the EC officials at the polling station it will definitely be difficult for anyone to even attempt to sideline or mishandle a person with disability”.
There are an estimated one billion disabled people in the world out of total population of 7 billion, i.e. 1 out of every 7 people are disabled. And Ghana has an estimated 5 million persons living with disabilities including physical disability, visual impairment, hearing disability, learning disabilities and autism.
Close to 200,000 of those with physical disabilities have no wheelchairs and close to 300,000 of the visually impaired are totally blind, according to a joint survey by Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Standard Chartered Bank, the Swiss Red Cross and Operation and Eyesight Universal, an eye care company.
Meanwhile, Ghana is going to the polls to elect their president and members of parliament on Monday 7th December, 2020.
By Boateng Wonder