Disability advocate Nasper Manyawu has ascended to the upper echelons of the disability movement in Zimbabwe, after being elected a senator to represent persons with disabilities in a tightly contested by-election.
The position became vacant following the death of Senator Rejoice Timire in August last year. There are two senators for the disabled, one male and one female. The death of Senator Timire meant that there was now just one senator representing persons with disabilities, Watson Khupe.
Senator Manyawu was elected at a Harare hotel on Sunday, May 15. She won by 58 votes, beating Anna Shiri who came second with 57 votes, and Tembeni Manduna, who got 48 votes.
The election, which was held by organisations for persons with disabilities, saw 183 voters casting their ballots to elect a female senator.
One of the election organisers and disability activist, Tafadzwa Matope, said the election was unique in that many people participated in the process than before.
“This was an interesting process because we had new people contesting this position. In the previous years we did not have a huge number of nomination candidates to this position. This shows that as persons with disabilities we are valuing our right to represent ourselves in the political
situations in our country.”
The by-election was sanctioned by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and was attended by officials from ZEC, government representatives from the ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and delegates from organisations for persons with disabilities.
In an interview with Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN), Nasper said she felt ‘honoured” and “humbled” by the trust placed on her.
“Within this short time I have, I will lobby for accessible transport and also champion the issue of medical assistance offered by the government.”
“I will also seek audience with the President on issues of presidential scholarships so that they will be extended to learners with disabilities”, she said.
Nasper is a strong advocate for disabled persons’ rights and has traversed the length and breath of Zimbabwe conducting workshops on disability. She has also appeared numerous times on radio and
television as a guest championing the same.