HARARE – Zimbabwe Older Persons Organisation is creating new chapters in the provinces and metropolitan cities to cater for the needs of the elderly.
Henry Maphosa, secretary of the organisation formerly-known as Zimbabwe Senior Citizens Foundation, said they have a membership of 1 000 elderly people in Harare alone.
“The organisation was formed in 2004 by a few elderly people in Harare who thought it was necessary for elderly people to come together and claim their rights,” Maphosa said.
“Funds permitting we will soon be embarking on the creation of chapters across the country.”
The organisation was registered as a Private Voluntary Organisation, (PVO) in 2010. The senior citizens are celebrating the enactment of Older Persons Act Chapter 17:11 which became law in 2012.
If fully enforced, the Act gives older people hope of a better life.
Priscilla Gavi, head of HelpAge Zimbabwe, an organisation that advocates for the rights of the old, said the Older Persons Act was the first stage of rectifying anomalies in the welfare of older persons.
“The setting up of the Older Persons’ Board as prescribed in the Act is underway presently and this is the body that is mandated with coming up with actual tangible benefits for older persons,” she said.
Gavi said older persons face numerous challenges in their daily lives, including lack of proper accommodation, poor access to health facilities due to mobility problems, lack of education for some who were never able to get formal employment and live decent lives, inadequate transport to ferry them from their homes, lack of food, no assets and discrimination in areas of knowledge in HIV/Aids and other important sectors.
“Older persons no longer join queues in banks, post offices, Zesa and City of Harare banking halls,” Maphosa said. “Bank charges on accounts have been withdrawn in some banks and also a 50 percent discount on rates has been allowed to older persons in Harare.
National Railways of Zimbabwe discounts 25 percent on passenger transport to older persons.”
Once fully operational, the organisation seeks to foster and encourage the spirit of solidarity among the elderly people, to identify the elderly, in need, and provide support by any means possible for their wellbeing in the community and to provide shelter and home-based care to destitute elderly in need. – Margaret Chinowaita, Community Affairs Editor