Government has come up with a raft of measures to address socio-economic challenges facing elderly persons in Zimbabwe, as the nation joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for the Elderly on Monday last week.
Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza reaffirmed Government’s commitment to addressing challenges faced by old people throughout the country.
Dr Nzenza was speaking at Bhasera Growth point in Gutu, in a speech read on her behalf by the deputy Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation Cde Yeukai Simbanegavi during International Day for the Elderly celebrations.
She said this year’s commemorations, which ran under the theme: “Celebrating Older Humans Rights Champions!’’ was critical for raising community awareness on matters affecting the welfare of the elderly.
Dr Nzenza said in some countries, the day was recognised as a public holiday.
“Zimbabwe promulgated the Older Persons Act Chapter 17(11), which established the Older Persons Board (OPB) in 2012.The OPB acts as the voice of old people,” she said.
“Government works in tandem with the OPB to mobilise and administer funds to cater for the welfare of old people.”
Government, said Dr Nzenza, was committed to providing old people with universal access to housing, health facilities, transport and food.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of State for Masvingo Province, Cde Ezra Chadzamira, said the new Government under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa was against community leaders in the habit of embezzling clothing and food aid meant for the elderly.
“Government condemns all forms of corruption by community leaders,” he said.
“The net is fast closing in on the culprits. We will not hesitate to arrest them.”
Cde Chadzamira applauded First Lady Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa for spearheading free cervical and prostate cancer screening for old people, especially those at 65 years and above.
OPB board member Commissioner Stuart Mungate told participants at the commemorations that the elderly needed representation in both Senate and Parliament.
“We implore Government to promote the rights and interests of old people,” he said.
“Above all, we want the Government to consider our ideas in every sector of the national economy.”
The United Nations General Assembly in 1990, established the International Day of Older Persons, when all UN members are obliged to acknowledge contributions made by the elderly in their lifetime.