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Visually impaired teacher seeks reinstatement

Without the child’s assistance, it would be virtually impossible to navigate her way or carry out ordinary chores.


This is the sad story of Tendai Ndongwe, a former primary school teacher, who lost her job after she was dismissed on medical grounds a few years ago.


But the 35-year-old teacher is now fighting with her former employer, the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, for reinstatement.


She claims to have been forced out and paid a paltry compensation.


“I want to go back to work,” says Ndongwe. “But the PSC (Public Service Commission) says it is still waiting for a directive from above to start re-employing.”


But the PSC says it will reconsider her case when the government unfreezes posts that remained vacant after it ceased employing new staff due to the decade-long economic crisis that bedevilled the country.


Presently over 1 000 teachers, who were granted amnesty after spending years out of service following indications that they were recruited unprocedurally, face dismissal.


The teachers emigrated at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. But the government later offered to reinstate them following a critical shortage of teachers.


Public Service deputy minister Andrew Langa recently said his ministry only considered those recommended by the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.


Ndongwe said she trained at Mary Mount Teachers’ College in Mutare before getting a teaching post in Chipinge, where she started developing sight problems.


She longs to read newspapers which she last did in 2006 when she read a story about gospel singer Ivy Kombo.


But she did so with some difficulties.


Disaster struck when she visited a doctor that fateful day, who injected her three doses of a drug and about 40 minutes later she was totally blind.


“The doctor injected a drug that sad day and my right eye was the first to be affected after that and 40 minutes later I could not see,” she said.


The first days were the most difficult in her life as she could not live with her new condition. But with time, reality dawned on her and she accepted her situation.


“Acquired disability and the disability that one is born with are two different things,” she said.


Liberty Lupahla, who is also visually impaired, said he also lost a lot of opportunities due to his visual impairment.


Lupahla, a trained journalist, said for 12 years he walked from pillar to post in search of a job but to no avail.


“Employers at a certain prominent media organisation in Harare did not take me for unclear reasons but they claimed they were not discriminating against my disability,” he said.

Ndongwe and Lupahla’s cases are not unique.


There are many people with disabilities in the country who face similar discrimination because of their condition.


Progressio, an international charity organisation, estimates that there are 1,4 million people living with disabilities in Zimbabwe.


The United Nations estimates that the total number of people with disabilities in Africa is approximately 80 million.


A good number of them are not employed and depend on begging for survival.

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