Ageing always comes with a lot of problems, in particular health issues and for the majority of Zimbabwe’s elderly population, it’s a double-edged sword.
The majority of the country’s elderly, struggling with health issues as they progress in life, have little or nothing in the bank after their savings and pensions were wiped out by dollarization.
Now they are calling on the government to look after them as they are struggling to take care of themselves.
Speaking during belated commemorations to mark the United Nations Elder Persons Day, Jonathan Mandaza, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Older Persons Organization said abuse of the elderly in Zimbabwe is rampant, adding it includes neglect by the government.
For Commissioner Mungate, the government should set up a fund to cater for the elderly, especially after their pensions and savings were wiped out by the dollarization of the country’s economy.
Mungare said most elderly people, even those who were gainfully employed in their heydays, are unable to look after themselves.
Most of the elderly, who attended the commemorations, said their situation is made worse by the prevailing economic situation where the majority of people are jobless.
They said their children, who are now their breadwinners, are mostly out of employment.
Enett Maratsirwa noted that she wants the elderly to be exempted from paying water and electricity bills.
Though the government is obliged to look after the elderly under the new constitution, officials from the Public Service, Labor and Social Services told parliament early this year that they were hamstrung by budgetary constraints.
Despite setting up an Old Persons Board, the government failed to provide funds for Wednesday’s commemorations and was not represented as Public Service, Labor and Social Services, Minister Nicholas Goche, was said to be attending a cabinet meeting.
The commemorations were organized by the National Ageing Network of Zimbabwe, a coalition of civic groups committed to total elimination of all forms of age discrimination.
The United Nations set June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day when people and governments around the world voice their opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on older people.
The global population of people aged 60 year and older will double from 542 million in 1995 to 1.2 billion in 2025.