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Blind, deaf people sue government over COVID-19

Blind, deaf people sue government over COVID-19

by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) DEAF and visually impaired Zimbabweans have taken the government and the public broadcaster to court demanding to be provided with information on preventing the coronavirus (COVID-19).

They allege marginalisation in the dissemination of this vital information by the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The Centre for Disability and Development, Deaf Zimbabwe Trust and Zimbabwe National League Of The Blind have approached the High Court arguing the broadcaster had failed to package information in a format that is accessible to these disabled members of the community.

This is notable for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

The public broadcaster together with ministers of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ( Monica Mutsvangwa ), Obadiah Moyo (Health and Child Care) and Paul Mavima, the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, have been cited as respondents.

Applicants, represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, argued that given the state of public health emergency and the national lockdown, there is need for ZBC to have sign language as part of its programming to enable the deaf and hard-of-hearing people to be fully
informed about the pandemic and continuous changes effected on compliance with the national lockdown.

They want the High Court to order ZBC to immediately provide sign language and/or captions in all its content on Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) pertaining to the COVID-19.

High Court Judge Justice Joseph Mafusire is scheduled to hear the case and determine on the application on Monday.

This is the latest in a string of lawsuits against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s response to COVID-19.

Residents have filed lawsuits demanding an end to harassment by law enforcers as well as demanding the provision of clean water.

Doctors are demanding the provision of protective clothing too.

Zimbabwe has confirmed three deaths from 23 cases.

– CAJ News

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