By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – In yet another landslide victory for the disabled, the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled has successfully appointed a disability advisory council, much to the benefit of people living with disability.

The appointment was made through the identification and gazetting of the names of the persons nominated into the council by The Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports, Arts, culture and Social Development Hon Pitso Lesaoana, who activated The Persons with Disability Equity Act of 2021, in which the council is established under.

The elected council members are Mr Fako Hakane from the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Nthupi Anna Bereng from the College of Chiefs, Dr Lucy Mapota (Lesotho Medical, Dental and Pharmacy council), Mr Morephe Santi ( Lesotho Nurses Association), Ms Pascalinah Letsau ( Lesotho National Association of the Physically Disabled), Mrs ‘Mabataung Kheetsi (Lesotho National League of the Visually Impaired Persons, Ms ‘Mafumane Makhele (Intellectual Disability and Autism Lesotho), Mrs ‘Matsepiso Mokhoromeng  (National Association of Deaf the People), Adv. Shafiq Isaacs (The Law Society of Lesotho) and Adv. Lebohang Leeu from the Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations.

The Minister paved the way for implementation of the Act in terms of Section 5 (composite of the council) of the Act, stipulating the council to be the statutory body charged with the oversight, information flow and monitoring of disability rights in Lesotho.

Speaking at the official announcement, the Honourable Minister Pitso Lesaoana said, he welcomed the new council and said its installation would be a milestone in the long journey that people living with disability had to endure for years. He said he was happy because the country was turning a new leaf as people living with disabilities in Lesotho would finally be heard and recognised.

“I know it has indeed been a very long time that we have wished and longed for this to occur. I know that the Persons with Disability Law Equity Act is of the year 2021, and since then the advisory council has never been established and put in service,” he said.

“The existence of this council therefore indicates that the government led by His Excellency the Honourable Prime Minister Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane, is determined to ensure that people with disabilities also have a role to play in our society. It is in this backdrop that we should begin to work hard and take our country forward, we now have all the tools we need to ensure that it all works out.

“The council which elects the Director General (DG) who will be the Secretary, after having followed due legal processes in their appointment; I emphasize legal processes because the DG is appointed in a totally different way from the council, as the council has already been elected according to their respective institutions.

According to the law they (the DG) act as a secretary, and just like a CEO they will be hired like an employee. The DG’s tenure is five years, and upon appointment by the council it will be important that they (the council) plan their sittings appropriately with the DG, this is where they will outline and map out their terms of service, and also discuss important issues such as remuneration and so forth.

The Minister also explained that issues pertaining to remuneration would be determined by the minister relevant, in consultation with the Ministry. He added that it was important that they followed all legal avenues to ensure that they advocated for reasonable, fair, sustainable financing, so that the council could survive for years to come without having problems relating to finances due to unsufficient budgets.

He urged council members to bear in mind that the main mission of the council was to work for people with disabilities.