After years of intense advocacy initiatives by the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled (LNFOD), the government has finally established the Persons with Disability Advisory Council.
This has been hailed by advocate Nkhasi Sefuthi, the Executive Director of LNFOD, as a crucial step towards protecting the rights and addressing the concerns of persons with disabilities.
Sufuthi expressed his appreciation to the Minister of Gender Youth Sports Arts Culture and Social Development, Pitso Lesaoana, for making this long-awaited appointment.
He emphasised that the presence of the council signifies a win for the disability sector in Lesotho and marks progress in safeguarding the rights of persons with disabilities.
â€œYet another win for the disability sector in Lesotho. Following the LNFODâ€™s intense advocacy initiatives over the years for the government of Lesotho to establish the Persons with Disability Advisory Council, the government of Lesotho has finally budged,â€ he said.
The establishment of the Advisory Council is mandated by the Persons with Disability Equity Act of 2021, which grants the council autonomous status with full rights and responsibilities.
â€œThe Council is the statutory body charged with the oversight, information flow, and monitoring of the disability rights in Lesotho,â€ Sefuthi said.
He highlighted that Lesaoana had appointed and gazetted the names of persons nominated into the council, as per Section 5 of the Act.
POLITICAL WILL AND INCLUSION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
According to Sefuthi, the governmentâ€™s action in appointing the council demonstrates a strong political will to be held accountable by its citizens and promote inclusion for sustainable development.
He stressed that â€œdisability rights are human rightsâ€, and their protection, promotion, and respect are essential in ending inequality and discrimination against marginalised groups in society.
To ensure the councilâ€™s autonomy from the government, Sefuthi urged the government and parliament to ensure that appoint of the Director General of the council is based on merits and is done transparently.
Additionally, he said, providing adequate technical and human resources to the council will enable it to effectively discharge its functions as an independent monitoring body for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Lesaoana also shared his thoughts, emphasising that the appointment of the council reflects the governmentâ€™s recognition of the role persons with disabilities play in society.
He called on the appointed members to contribute to the country’s development and make people with disability be seen merely as complainers.
Linkeng Khubetsoana, Director of Legal Services at the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, Culture, and Social Development, clarified that the appointed council members are expected to serve for a term of three years, which can also be extended as per the law.