Leroy Dzenga in Victoria Falls
THE Government is compiling a database of elderly people to improve its delivery of material support to them.
There have been concerns that elderly people were being neglected and there was need for improved support, a call which the Government said it was responding to.
Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Simon Masanga, on Tuesday told delegates who attended the just-ended African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the Government has devised strategies to better the lives of the elderly.
In a speech read on his behalf by the director Social Welfare in the Ministry Tatamirepi Tirivavi, Mr Masanga assured the meeting that no one will be left behind.
“Government is working on a social protection database meant to bring in a competent database, which will help with the reporting of activities by older persons,” he said.
“This will help us in delivering Sustainable Development Goals goal one, two and three through implementing social programmes for the elderly.”
Government conceded that more needed to be done in ensuring voices of the elderly are heard.
“The voices of older people are still limited in public policy discourse relating to age and the elderly,” said Mr Masanga.
The Government is making strides towards signing and ratifying protocols on the rights of the elderly in the African Charter.
“Through the food deficit mitigation programme in which grain is delivered to food insecure households, the ministry is currently working on a number of social protection programmes targeted at older people.”
At the same event, former Older Person’s Board member Mr Stephen Mungate urged the Government to mainstream the elderly in the national discourse.
“Pensions should be expanded beyond those who were formally employed, even those who have never been employed should get pensions and universal access to health,” he said.
“Old people are experiencing abuse at health institutions. I can testify that some of our older people are being abused and accused of finishing medication for the young.”
The country was urged inculcate empathetic values in its citizens from a young age.
“We need to revisit our curriculum and bring back content that helps young people understand the importance of older people in our communities,” said Mr Mungate.
“We want permanent seats for older people in decision-making bodies like Parliament and Senate.”
African governments were challenged to be mindful of older persons living in rural areas when they deliver social services.
Dr Eze Ajoku, president of the Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria said: “When Governments give pension pay outs, they should remember older persons who have never been employed. They are sometimes forgotten when pension systems are structured.”
According to statistics, Zimbabwe has around 900 000 elderly persons who have 1,2 million schoolchildren depending on them.
Some of the children are their orphaned grandchildren.