The idea for such a foundation was first proposed to Dr Mengi, the IPP executive chairman, by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in February this year. And appearing as chief guest at the launch in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Majaliwa commended Dr Mengi for making the idea come true.
“When I attended the annual luncheon organised by Dr Mengi for people with disabilities at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in the city last February, I did advise him to come up with a national foundation for PWDs,” the premier recalled.
He noted that, among other things, the foundation will be sure to promote inclusive people’s development across the country, and urged “other well-off people to emulate Dr Mengi’s efforts especially in helping the helpless.”
“Embassies should also see this and set aside something in their budgets for PWDs...,” he added.
Majaliwa said the government is planning to conduct door-to-door surveys to collect verifiable information on the actual number and living conditions of PWDs so they can be properly incorporated in national development plans.
The premier also directed district authorities across the country to ensure that local community households are educated enough to stop trying to hide children with disabilities from public view.
“Employers should ensure that at least three per cent of their employers are PWDs, as the law requires. Architects and building experts should ensure that all building structures include considerations for PWD needs,” he stressed.
Dr Mengi, the DRMF chairman, expressed hope that the foundation will help advocate change in society perceptions of PWDs.
“My dream for this foundation is to see PWDs enjoy good livelihoods, have access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. We will work closely with the government and other stakeholders to achieve the vision and mission of this foundation,” he said.
He also called on the government to take action against people who use PWDs, street children, and other marginalised members of society as economic capital by deploying them as, say, street beggars and then take whatever is earned in this manner as their own income.
“It is high time now for the government to address this kind of behaviour... men who conceive children with women with disabilities should also be held responsible for taking care of these children,” he added.
Dr Mengi pledged to construct a special industrial factory worth 5 billion/- that will employ only people with disabilities.
According to DRMF executive director Shimimana Ntuyabaliwe, the foundation’s major mission is to honour and empower people with disabilities in the country.
Its mapped-out goals include advocating for PWDs economic empowerment, promoting inclusive development, advocating change in PWDs’ own perception of themselves to believe that “I Can”, and promoting stronger legislation in support of PWDs.