Persons with Disability’s Right to Work in Africa: A Comparative Study of Employment and Disability Laws, Policies and Relevant Institutional Mechanisms of Tanzania and Selected African States

by Abdallah Possi

“Disability is a human rights issue.” This is a common expression in many contemporary disability rights scholarly work. While researching on disability rights may not raise questions, often, a selection of topic could be generated by many factors, including the researcher’s personal interest.
Matters of personal interest aside, I opted to research on Persons with Disability’s Right to work, not because everything is perfect with other aspects of disability rights, but because work (or employment) should be among means of empowerment. Unfortunately, work is among such areas where persons with disability have been facing discrimination.
Considering the complexities of poverty, and the economies of African nations, it is worth undertaking a study focusing on Africa because, while human rights are perceived as universal, there are also concerns that imposing a universal approach throughout the world risks ignoring some specific differences across nations and continents. This work is also intended to add on to the existing knowledge on disability, especially with respect to Africa, considering the fact that compared to other parts of the world, there has not been so much literature on disability rights in Africa.
My work is limited to Tanzania and five other selected African countries, namely Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa and Ghana. Because of Tanzania’s political and legal structure, a discussion of Tanzania covers both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. I elaborate how the international approaches to employment and disability rights have evolved, and how these approaches have influenced laws and policies on the employment of persons with disability in Tanzania and other States selected for the purposes of this work.
The combination of “disability rights” and “employment rights” mean that as with other rights, what is needed is to construe rights in such a way that they fit the requirements of persons with disability, enabling them to enjoy the rights on equal basis with other persons without disability. The nature of matters inquired in this work has necessitated a pragmatic approach to research – an inter-disciplinary approach. Nevertheless, because of my legal profession background, there is a heavy reliance on legal instruments.

The paper can be read or downloaded here.


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