In the light of the recent national elections, QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) CEO Ari Seirlis shares some thoughts on the representation of people with disabilities in politics and the potential of a party catering for the disability community.
The recent elections had us facing a dilemma once again: what do we do with our votes as people with disability? Who is out there wooing our vote?
Conservatively, there must be about a million votes belonging to people with disabilities* – that’s just a quarter of the known population of people with disabilities in South Africa.
The ANC gives us Bogopane-Zulu and Masutha. We know them all and can decide among ourselves whether they have performed or not. I have my views and it’s not very complimentary.
The DA gives the following information about their candidates with disabilities:
- Mpumalanga: 1 x hearing impediment;
- Eastern Cape: 2 x speech impediment, 1 x visually impaired, 1 x physical disability;
- Limpopo: 9 x visually impaired, 3 x hearing impediment, 1 x physical disability; and
- Gauteng: 1 x visually impaired, 3 x partially physically disabled, 1 x hearing impediment
The DA refused to share with us who they are. What arrogance and ignorance! How foolish can they be not to allow us to interact with these candidates so that we can understand their potential. Notwithstanding the manner in which they describe the disability of their candidates, as seen from the above list copied from an email.
There has not been a word from the EFF on any candidates with disabilities nor have I heard this party referring to or engaging with the disability or vulnerable groups. COPE doesn’t engage with us either, unless they have done so in the Eastern Cape.
Patricia de Lille and Good will surely make fools of themselves, having sold the ID down the tubes to the DA, fraudulently robbing a candidate with a disability of his seat in the elections ten years ago and now surfacing with the laughable name. I hear Erik Holm, actor and a quadriplegic who resides in Pretoria, is a candidate for Good.
I wish him good luck, but Aunty Pat is not to be trusted in my view. I haven’t heard much from the rest of the parties in the race for seats in the National Assembly.
However, the opportunity exists for a disability party. The landscape is prime with a million votes from people with disabilities that will earn ten seats in the National Assembly. You only have to ask one friend or family member to vote with you and then we have 20!
You might find that old, frail and vulnerable people will align themselves to the manifesto of a disability party and, before you know, there is the potential to hold an official opposition. It’s too late to do anything about this exciting prospect now, but there is a 2024 national election to plan for if we can unite for self-representation.
*According to Stats SA, there were 57,7 million people in South Africa in 2018. A 2011 Stats SA census concluded that 7,5 percent of the population has a disability. People with a disability over the age of 19 make up 5,64 percent of the population (See the data from the 2011 census for more information). Thus, in 2018, there is an estimated 3,26 million voters with disabilities in South Africa.
Of the estimated 35,9 million eligible voters in South Africa, only 26,75 million or 74,5 percent registered to vote, with an additional ten million voters not making it to the polls on the day. If a similar trend is seen in the disability community, there would be closer to 2,4 million voters with disabilities.