Overcoming one’s disability - Thought Leadership

BY SAKHEKILE ZWENI - NOVEMBER 16, 2016

According to the United Nations High-level Political Forum 2016, people with disabilities comprise an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population, or one billion people in which 80 per cent live in developing countries and are over represented among those living in absolute poverty.

The South Africa (SA) Census of 2011 report stated that 7.5 percent of the SA population lives with some form of disability.

Understanding the impact of non-development to people living with disabilities the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) took a decision, as early as 2013 to support people with disabilities through the establishment of the disability programme. The objective of the programme is to restore the dignity of people with disabilities by equipping them with skills they need to secure employment. 

The focus of integrating disabled people back into the economic stream affords them an opportunity to earn their own living instead of depending on government grants.

To-date, the CDC has managed to train and secure employment for 21 employees living with disabilities in a Workplace Mentorship Programme that is designed to improve the skills and competencies of physically challenged employees. This programme offers disabled employees career guidance and tools to improve job performance.

What does success mean to people with disabilities and how do they achieve it?

Success may be understood in many folds, depending on the needs of the individual. When it comes to most people with disabilities, and reflecting on my own disability as a quadriplegia, just like any other person, I have come to understand that success may mean the accomplishment of one’s purpose.

This has the potential to remove many challenges that persons with disabilities face and assist them to be fully integrated into the mainstream of the economy. This necessitates support from various people in order for disabled people to fully utilize their potential just like any other person in society.

The support required often comes from, amongst others, families, friends and colleagues who provide adequate assistance when needed. In other instances, support is required constantly for people with disabilities in order to achieve success. Thus there’s a saying that “Umtu ngumtu ngabantu,” loosely translated to “a person is a person because of people.” Without people; people living with disabilities will be left behind in any of the country’s developmental agenda.

A successful life is a life that can be actively engaged in, creating activities that make a contribution to the lives of others. Success is a kind of by-product and NOT an end in itself!

What internal characteristics do these individuals possess and what external factors have been present in their lives?

A combination of people around us and life events has helped those living with disabilities to maintain high standards of performance and participation in the workplace.

This often assists people living with disabilities to set personal and career goals whilst knowing their limits and working around them. Therefore, it is very important to have people around them to trigger their determination to reach greater heights.

How to overcome disability

Gaining control over ones’ life involves, (a) many positive things and (b) successfully applying a number of self-determination skills, such as goal setting, understanding your abilities and disabilities, problem solving, and self-advocacy. The personal process of utilizing and self-evaluating these skills in a variety of settings is at the heart of self-determination.

Additionally, knowing and valuing one self, setting goals, and planning helps build important foundation, but action is required to make dreams come true. In order to overcome disability and take control of ones’ life, it is necessary to choose and take appropriate action. Take charge and move forward. Furthermore, people with disabilities have to accept the fact that they must work harder or twice as much than other counterparts to get to the same level.

I personally chose to take control of my life and appropriate action!

Sakhekile Zweni is the CDC Diversity Officer accredited by the South African Board for Personnel Practice (SABPP). He holds a ND in Accounting; B-Tech Degree in Cost and Management Accounting and BA Hons in Group Dynamics.