Excellency President Rupiah Banda and Mrs Banda and your delegation,
Ministers and senior officials,
Adelaide Tambo Skills Development Centre stakeholders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today is a special occasion for our country, as we mark the second day of the State Visit to our country by His Excellency President Rupiah Banda and his delegation.
This is a highly significant visit given the strong political and historical ties between our two countries.
We have just returned from laying wreaths at the graves of Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, freedom fighters who have a special place in the history of our country.
ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo was key to the building and strengthening of the ties between South Africa and Zambia, and it was only proper that we remember him during this visit.
It was important too, that we visit the Adelaide Tambo Skills Development Centre, to honour Mrs Tambo after whom it is named, and also for us together to mark this special day, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
Our theme for commemoration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities is:
Keeping the promise: Working together towards the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
This theme offers us an opportunity to highlight the barriers that still limit the realization of rights of people with disabilities.
The commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities takes place during the period of 16 Days of Activism of No Violence Against Women and Children.
Women and children with disabilities face even more challenges of abuse.
We have to ensure that we include the disability sector so that these stakeholders can play an active role in the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
Also, two days ago, on the 1st of December, South Africa joined the world in observing World AIDS Day.
As we intensify our response to the spread of HIV infection and work to reduce the impact of AIDS in our society we must involve people with disabilities.
We have to ensure that people with disabilities have access to sufficient information to enable them to take informed decisions about their lives.
Our HIV Counselling and Testing services, and efforts to increase access to care and treatment programmes need to target this sector as well.
We need to prioritize the issue of economic participation by people with disabilities.
We have put the target of two percent of employment of people with disabilities as part of the total workforce.
It is disturbing to note that the country is not making sufficient progress towards meeting this target as we are currently at zero point nine percent according to the latest annual Report of the Employment Equity Commission.
The report indicates that people with disabilities in the private sector was at one percent which is about thirty five thousand employees in 2009.
We have to encourage the private sector to continue to increase the number of employees with disabilities.
We also encourage companies to direct their social responsibility programmes towards socio-economic empowerment of women, children and persons with disabilities.
This can significantly complement the efforts of Government to eradicate poverty and provide social security to these marginalized groups.
Amongst these poverty eradication efforts, is the social security programme of government. The number of people accessing disability grants increased from six hundred and ninety four thousand in 2002 to one point two million this year.
As part of social security net for people with disabilities, government is providing the care dependency grant of one thousand and eighty rand per month, to assist families to care for children with special needs in their homes.
There is also a disability grant for adults over the age of 18 years who are unlikely to find employment because of their disability and have no or limited sources of income.
In addition, we established the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities.
Its primary responsibility is to promote and protect the interests of women, children and persons with disabilities by mainstreaming gender, disability and children`s rights consideration throughout the government system.
We need to ensure that every government department meets its individual obligation with regard to employment of persons with disabilities.
It is not acceptable that by 2009, people with disabilities constitute zero point six percent of government employees, translating to 6 000 employees according to the Employment Equity Commission report.
As part of the process of Monitoring and Evaluation, we need to measure progress made by all relevant government departments in delivering services to persons with disabilities.
Other measures we still need to improve upon is the access to transport in both rural and peri-urban areas where our people depend on buses and taxis.
We also have to increase the number of children with disabilities who enrol and progress successfully through the school system.
If we can make progress in education, we can pull many people with disabilities out of conditions of poverty.
On this international day and the special occasion of the visit by His Excellency President Banda, we reflect on these issues as a country and also as a region. The challenges facing people with disabilities are similar in most African countries.
When we talk of building a better Africa and a better world, we mean the improvement of the lives of all, including persons with disabilities.
These are some of the values that Adelaide Tambo believed in and championed - the equal opportunities for all.
These are the values too that President Oliver Tambo and many of our stalwarts, heroes and heroines fought for, including the founding presidents in the African continent, such as Presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Nelson Mandela, Agostinho Neto, Kwame Nkrumah and a host of others.
We have a responsibility to build a caring Africa and to promote socio-economic development for the benefit of our peoples.
Angigcizelele ukuthi siyajabula ukuba nani nonke, nokuthi nihlanganyele nathi namhlanje njengoba sivakashelwe uMongameli waseZambia, u Mongameli Rupiah Banda.
Sibonga nokusamukela kwenu okumnandi njengoba sizogubha, futhi sikhumbula lolusuku olubaluleke kakhulu esimemeza ngalo ezweni lonke ukuthi asibambisaneni sonke ekusebenzeleni ukuba ikusasa labantu bakithi abakhubazekile libe ngcono.
Asibambisaneni muzi wakwethu ngomoya wokuzwana Nokuthula.
Uma sibambisene, siyophumelela.
Sinifisela okuhle kodwa mphakathi wase-Wattville, kanye nalesisizinda zentuthuko.
Mr President, once again, welcome to Wattville, and thank you for having joined us on this special occasion.
I thank you!