On Friday, 8 September 2023, Zimbabwe lost one of its most prominent and respected figures in the disability rights movement and national politics. Honourable Senator Dr. Joshua Teke Malinga, who was the Special Advisor to the President and Cabinet on National Disability Issues, a former Executive Mayor of Bulawayo, and a Zanu-PF Politburo Member, passed away at his home in Richmond, Bulawayo, after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 79 years old.

Malinga was born on 28th April, 1944, in Filabusi. He contracted polio at the age of two, which left him with a physical disability that did not deter him from pursuing his dreams and aspirations. He was taken to Bulawayo by his older brother, who enrolled him at Jairos Jiri center, where he received his education and trained as a cobbler.

Malinga was drawn to politics at a young age, as he witnessed the injustices and oppression that black people faced under the colonial regime. He joined the nationalist movement and became an activist for the liberation struggle. He rose through the ranks of Zanu PF and became a Central Committee and Politburo member. He also served as the Executive Mayor of Bulawayo for two terms, from 1993 to 1996.

Malinga was a vocal and passionate advocate for the rights and interests of people with disabilities in Zimbabwe and beyond. He was the Founder and President of the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe (NCDPZ), which was established in 1975 to represent and empower people with disabilities. He also served as the World President of Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), a global network of Organizations of People with Disabilities (O.P.Ds).

Malinga was instrumental in influencing government policies and programs that addressed the needs and challenges of people with disabilities. He advised His Excellency; President Emmerson Mnangagwa on disability issues and ensured that disability rights were mainstreamed in national development. He also championed the enactment of the Disabled Persons Act of 1992 making Zimbabwe the first country in Africa to have legislation. He was part of the COPAC committee which came up with a new Zimbabwean National Constitution in 2013, through his involvement in this process the new Zimbabwean became disability inclusive. He also championed the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by Zimbabwe in 2013.

Malinga was widely respected and admired for his courage, integrity, diligence, and loyalty. He was a man of principle and vision, who dedicated his life to serving his country and his people. He was also a loving and caring father, husband, brother, and friend to many including the Co-founder of Thisability Hub Mr T.K Tsikai who he mentored.

Hi Excellency Cde President E.D Mnangagwa expressed his deep sorrow and condolences to the Malinga family and the nation in a statement. He praised Malinga for his distinguished role in the liberation struggle, the development of the nation, and the promotion of disability rights. He also announced that Malinga had been accorded national hero status in recognition of his immense contributions to society especially people with disabilities.

Malinga’s death is a great loss not only to his family and friends, but also to the disability community and the nation at large. He leaves behind a legacy of leadership, service, and advocacy that will inspire generations to come. He will be remembered as a champion of disability rights and a national hero.

May his soul rest in peace.
We miss you boss!

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