The Ghana Federation of the Disabled (GFD) has appealed to the electorates to vote massively for Persons With Disability (PWDs) contesting the upcoming district level elections to enable them to serve their communities as assembly members.
The Federation has called on President John Dramani Mahama to consider including at least two qualified PWDs in the 30 per cent presidential appointees at each of the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
In 2014, the GFD petitioned the President to take affirmative step to ensure a proportionate participation of PWDs in local governance by including two qualified and competent PWDs in the 30 per cent appointees at each of the MMDAs.
The GFD argued that Ghana?s elections were contested on an uneven ground because of the existing environmental, communication, information, and attitudinal barriers which impeded their electoral campaigns.
Mr Isaac Tuggun, Focal Person of the GFD, told the Ghana News Agency on Thursday that the existing built-environment obstructs the electoral tours of persons with physical disability and those with visual impairment.
He said deaf persons contesting elections will need sign language interpreters throughout the campaigns and that posed extra cost to the candidate.
The PWDs also suffer derogatory name calling and direct opposition based on their disability, as was publicly witnessed when Dr. Seidu Daannaa, Minister of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs was nominated for the post, he said.
According to Mr Tuggun, various governments have made conscious efforts to allocate percentages of government appointments to women and asked that similar favours be extended to the disability community.
?The time has come for us as a people to move from the rhetorical socio-economic and political inclusion to building an actual inclusive society where everyone will have the opportunity to participate in decision-making at the national and local levels,? he said.
In 2010, South Africa had several Ministers with varied levels of disabilities and about 17 members of parliament were PWDs, he said.
He also mentioned that Uganda has a sectoral representation of PWDs and women in parliament, noting that, in Ghana the few PWDs who had served as assembly members had performed creditably well.
He said PWDs serving as assembly members would ensure that projects and programmes designed at the local levels are disability-inclusive since they would better push for effective implementation of pro-disability legislations and policies at that level.
?Their presence at assembly meetings and deliberations will prompt the assemblies to make conscious efforts to ensure that their infrastructure and services are accessible to PWDs, including sign language interpretation at meetings and other gatherings,? he added.