On 10th July 2014, the SAFOD Dictator General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, and SAFOD Projects Coordinator, Mr. George Kayange, met the Research and Information Officer at the Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination Council (SATUCC), Mr. Paliani Chinguwo. The meeting was held right at the SATUCC offices in Gaborone, Botswana. SATUCC is an organisation that deals with workers some of whom may be disabled.
The two SAFOD officers were accompanied by the Coordinator of Botswana Federation of the Disabled (BOFOD) Ms. Shirley Keoagile and member of the SAFOD Regional Executive Council (REC), Mr. Wabotlhe Chimidza
The agenda of the meeting was to discuss possible areas of cooperation between SAFOD and SATUCC. SAFOD also ceased the opportunity to lobby SATUCC to include disability/SAFOD on the programme for the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum which was held in Zimbabwe from 28th to 30th July 2014.
Mr. Paliani Chinguwo expressed regret that the meeting took place outside his office because persons on wheelchairs – in this case Mr. Chiwaula and Mr. Chimidza – could hardly enter into the due to steps. He acknowledged that this was part of sensitization and an eye opener on his part as it was the first time they were experiencing such an embarrassment.
Mr. Chinguwo noted that some of the workers they deal had disabilities, and it would therefore be strategic for an organisation like SAFOD to help with sensitizing workers with disabilities on how they can be involved and benefit from joining unions. He said one of the underlying characteristics of trade unions is that becoming a member of a union is voluntary hence the need for sensitization about its benefits especially for disabled workers.
Mr. Chinguwo was also excited about the idea for developing possible joint project proposals between SAFOD and SATUCC focusing on the rights of disabled workers.
On the 10th Southern Africa Civil Society Forum held in Zimbabwe from 28th to 30th July 2014, Mr. Chinguwo said SATUCC would convince its partner organizers to invite SAFOD to the forum so that it could contribute issues on disability by way making a presentation in one of the parallel sessions. It was noted that the programme had parallel sessions on various issues including gender, women, youth, children, the elderly, minority groups, etc., but none on disability.
He therefore acknowledged that the fact that disability was not included was indeed a clear indication that disability was one forgotten area that needed a lot of sensitization even among the organizers themselves.
Finally, Mr. Chinguwo proposed more areas of possible collaboration with SAFOD, including the following:
(i) SADC Employment and Labour Social Protection Protocol (where SAFOD could take a lead at issues pertaining to workers with disabilities)
(ii) SATUCC launch of a Plan of Action for the implementation of the Protocol/campaign
(iii) SATUCC to involve SAFOD in its activities that involve workers with disabilities, and SAFOD to involve SATUCC in its activities that involve employment rights of persons with disabilities.