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December 9, 2004

Telecom Behind the Disabled

From:, Africa - Dec 9, 2004

New Era (Windhoek)
December 9, 2004
Posted to the web December 9, 2004

TELECOM'S senior human resource manager in the Department of Employment and Support Services, Five Gertze, has indicated that his company would continue striving to foster equal employment opportunities for disabled people in order to integrate them with the rest of society.

Gertze uttered these words when he received a floating trophy on behalf of Telecom for it being one of the outstanding companies offering employment to all, including people with disabilities, last Friday.

Currently, the company has 13 disabled people compared to last year when it had seven. These people with disabilities are represented at all levels, from middle to senior management.

The company will continue to implement the necessary measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are well represented at all levels within its structures, he added.

Telecom operates in line with what is stipulated in the company's Affirmative Action Plan to offer employment opportunities to all Namibians and that includes giving a chance to those who were previously disadvantaged.

"When we advertise, we encourage all people including those with disabilities to apply and sometimes we put them on training just to incorporate them in society."

Of the 13 people who are employed, two of them are blind and are working at the Windhoek offices' switchboard.

Telecom started with employing the disabled way before parliament adopted the disability policy in July 1997.

"We did not want to be rigid and wait for the government to address the plight of the disabled. We have been involved in this for 10 years now and really, we are doing a lot," Gertze noted.

Meanwhile, Telecom government liaison manager Sacky Amunyela who is disabled and has been with the company for 12 years, says he does not understand the public when they use the term "disabled" because every person regardless of their state have some form of abilities and thus the public should refrain from using such terms.

Telecom Namibia Limited is the national telecommunications operator, established in August 1992 and serving more than 114000 customers, with 1 503 employees and annual revenue of more than N$896.2 million.

Meanwhile, disability advisor to the Prime Minister, Tjieza Tjombumbi, indicated to New Era that the general public look at disability as wheelchairs and nothing else.

"There are people who are visually impaired and others deaf but those are really not looked at as people with disabilities."

He says advertisements are made available to the public but organisations have not at any time considered how they would reach the disabled, especially the visually impaired, he lamented.

Out of 85000 people with disabilities in the country, only 2000 are employed and according to Tjombumbi, companies should consider and see the plight of people with disabilities and while offering them jobs they should bear in mind that disabled people are not there for what he termed as "peanut paying jobs".

Judging from the research conducted by the Employment Equity Commission through the Labour Resource and Research Institute recently, most work profiles of most companies show that the disabled are hardly represented at any level of employment and their numbers are so small such that they are virtually insignificant in terms of the statistical analysis.

Tjombumbi further called on the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture to prepare students with disabilities in such as a way that they acquire the skills that would enable them consideration for employment.

There is still need for another policy that would form a linkage between the affirmative action (AA) policy and education. This initiative would help companies understand the AA, he added.

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