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Disabled vote raises wheelchair awareness

In a prelude to the SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday campaign, disabled voters in Nelson Mandela Bay received an opportunity yesterday to ensure they contributed to the municipal elections.

Thanks to a special dispensation approved by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), voting stations were set up at various points in the metropole, allowing people with disabilities to make their mark.

The voting opportunity will help to raise awareness of SPAR’s Wheelchair Wednesday campaign which is held annually in collaboration with the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD).

“The voting process today (Tuesday) helped to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by about 100 000 disabled people in Nelson Mandela Bay on a daily basis,” said APD executive director Brian Bezuidenhout.

“We want to give those disabled people a chance to empower themselves, to make sure they have the right to vote, and we acknowledge the role the IEC played in making this possible.”

The SPAR Wheelchair Wednesday campaign was initiated five years ago to raise awareness of those who have physical disabilities.

This year’s campaign will be launched on August 10 when SPAR Eastern Cape and APD use the opportunity to demonstrate to able-bodied people the challenges faced by disabled people.

The election process was appreciated by residents of Cheshire Homes, who had a voting station on their premises.

“I would like to thank the IEC for making it very simple for the physically disabled to vote,” said Cheshire Homes resident Rodney Lavin.

“They have done a wonderful job on educating the people how to vote and also allowing it to be wheelchair friendly.”

Jackson Gqomo and Dan Mkele also used the opportunity to vote at the Cheshire station.

“I’m glad to be able to vote and to put my cross for my party,” said Gqomo. “I want to see them help us as a people who live with disability.”

Mkele also expressed his delight with being able to vote.

“I’m feeling well and the people here show that they support us and care about people with disabilities.”