By Justin Mahlahla
The Government of Zimbabwe is working on a policy document to protect the elderly against all forms of abuse, violence, and ill-treatment, the Minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare, Honourable Paul Mavima has said.
In his address during commemorations to mark the United Nations day of Older Persons at the Ekuphumeleni Geriatric Nursing Home in Bulawayo, Professor Mavima said the policy will also ensure that the social security of old people is taken more seriously as lack of income has led to the deterioration of their health and mental stability.
“It is through such initiatives that the lives of older persons will certainly drift towards self-independence, they will be able to participate in community development, their children will not feel burdened by caring for them and they will regain their dignity.
He added, “There are also other policies and initiatives that protect and cater for the rights of older persons found in different Government Ministries, for instance, the provision of free health services for those who are 65 years and above. The government is also paying per capita grants to long-term care homes every month upon request. The establishment of The Older Persons Board has seen significant milestones being achieved in terms of coordinating activities that improve the quality of life of older persons.”
Professor Mavima said the Government of Zimbabwe places high on its agenda the promotion, protection, and advancement of the rights of older persons.
“These rights are recognized and enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Sections 21 and 82 as well as the Older Persons Act Chapter [17:11]. The Government of Zimbabwe fully ascribes to the United Nations Principles for older persons which recognize that older persons have a right to independence, participation, care, self-fulfillment and to live in dignity. It is for this reason that the Government is considering ratification of the African Union protocol on Human Rights and the Rights of older persons in the spirit of leaving no one behind,” he noted.
He said Zimbabweans must always be conscious of the well-being of the elderly and support them with the necessary resources to enable them to fend for themselves.
He acknowledged the challenges facing the elderly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ladies and gentlemen, COVID-19 has reduced income streams for older persons with traditional sources such as assistance from family members within the country, remittances from abroad, and small businesses heavily affected. Older persons are relying more on pensions. However, not all older persons are beneficiaries of pension schemes because pensions only accrued to those that had been previously in employment.
“As such some elderly people have been left devastated with no reliable safety nets. What COVID-19 has taught us, is the need for adequate universal social protection schemes that can protect every individual during disasters and in old age.”
“The umbrella theme of the day is “resilience of older persons in a changing world”. This theme serves as a hallmark and reminder of the significant role older persons play in traversing global challenges and contributing to their solutions with resilience and fortitude,” said the minister.