MOHAMMAD YAASEEN EDOO

Every five years, the Republic of Mauritius asks the citizens to elect the government for the next five years. And all the political parties come up with an electoral manifesto to present to the population what they are going to do or how they will improve the welfare and well-being of all the citizens of the country.

As per the 2011 Statistics, there were around 60,000 persons with disabilities in Mauritius. Eight years have elapsed and we believe that the figures have increased. Persons with disabilities have an important role to play in our Mauritian society. In private companies where they are recruited, other employees as well as employers witness their dedication and hard work. We deserve the same rights and dignity like any citizen of the country and our votes matter in such an important democratic duty.

It is encouraging and interesting to note that political parties have included development for persons with disabilities if they are elected and form the next government of Mauritius. Some of the promises made are: (1) Review of Basic Invalidity Pension (BIP) so that PWDs reaching 60 years old benefit from two pensions and not just one like it is currently, (2) Tax deduction on motorised wheelchairs, (3) A National Action Plan in line with the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, (4) Review of the functioning of Medical Board for the allocation of support to persons with disabilities, amongst others…

I am glad that one of the issues, amongst many, which I have always been advocating for, has been taken onboard in one of the political party’s electoral manifesto: the recruitment of persons with disabilities in the public sector. The government cannot come up with the TEDPB Act to force the private sector and parastatal bodies to recruit PWDs while this is not the case in public sector. I hope that after the elections, appropriate amendments will be brought to make it compulsory upon the government to employ persons with disabilities in the public sector. The government has to lead by example so that the private sector will willingly follow by employing persons with disabilities.

However, the most important work comes with the implementation of the electoral manifesto. The previous governments which ruled the country between 2010-2014 and 2014-2019 both promised to bring forward the Disability Bill. Tomorrow, we will be asked to cast our vote and till now the Disability Bill is not yet a reality. It has remained an unfulfilled promise. As a responsible Disability Activist and Board Member of the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled (NCRD), I will ensure that all the measures that have been presented in the electoral manifestos of the political parties are implemented after the election.