Inclusion for all
    23 November 2021


    Finding the ability in disability

    Jeff Makonye, a Vodacom employee for 21 years, shares his experience of living and working with a disability. 

    ISCOD is Vodacom’s central order desk platform, where queries, purchase order creations, assets, receipting, and much more are handled – and that’s where you’ll find Jeff Makonye, a long-time staffer who believes Vodacom’s proactive approach to disability has been life-changing.  

    Please give us an overview of your disability and the challenges it brings to your daily life? 

    My disability is about height, as I’m small in stature. My daily challenge is the perception of the environment and society in which I live, in that they think I’m not capable of doing what other able-bodied [people] can do. I see this wherever I go – in malls, or other public places. People always want to feel pity for me, going as far as even trying to lift me up. But as someone who grew up in such environments, I always politely tell them I am not worried about anything and I don’t need sympathy – I’m as capable of taking care of myself as anyone else. 

    How has Vodacom as a company adapted to assist you with your disability? 

    In contrast to the above societal perceptions, Vodacom understands the core values of humanity. Since I joined the company in the early 2000s, it has changed my life completely. I’ve found a home and environment that has gone beyond the call of duty in making me and the rest of the disability community feel accommodated. This allows me to enjoy all the facilities even more – both at work and in my normal life. Vodacom adapted the buildings to meet my needs, and provided the necessary facilities for me. The company has also always made sure I get to speak out or point out if something isn’t user-friendly or accessible to me. The facilities department provides what I need to be able to do my work and function in the workplace. 


    Which technologies have helped you? 

    I think all forms of technology that are accessible to all have helped me, just like anybody else. This includes the engineering that makes it possible to adjust my car to fit my own style. I can drive myself, thanks to these special adjustments 

    What do you wish able-bodied people did more of/less of for people with a disability – at home, socially and in the workplace? 

    They must understand that disability is just a condition; it doesn’t make a person less human or less capable of doing most – or 90% of – daily life activities. 

    Who are some of your role models who have a disability? 

    There are countless role models of people with a disability who’ve excelled in life, who overcame the odds regardless of their disability circumstances. People like the late Nobel prize winner Stephen Hawking, who spent his adult life paralysed in a wheel chair with motor neurone disease, former Paralympic swimmer Natalie du Toit, wheelchair tennis Paralympian Kgothatso Montjane, and many others. 

    Vodacom support 

    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15% of the world's population has a disability and only 48% of working-age people living with a disability are employed. These stats show why it’s critical that companies become more inclusive and embrace diversity in all its forms. And this is why Vodacom has made it our mission to build an inclusive culture where everyone is respected, can be themselves and strives to be their best.  

    Click here for more information about the benefits of working at Vodacom or here to read another interview with someone from Vodacom living with a disability.