‘Safeguard the rights of older persons’

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Sindiso Mhlophe

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

mhlophes@dailynews.co.zw

ZIMBABWE has to prioritise the protection of older persons amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and harsh economic conditions, the Older Persons Board of Zimbabwe chairperson, Priscilla Gavi, has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) Day for Older Persons celebrations in Mazowe recently, Gavi called on the government to sign and ratify the African Union (AU) Protocol on Human Rights and Rights of Older Persons in order to safeguard the rights of older persons in the country.

The protocol, adopted in 2016, recognises the rights and freedoms of older persons and directs state parties to ensure the independence, dignity, self-fulfilment, participation and care of older persons.

“The AU has come up with the protocol on the Human Rights and Rights of Older Persons which the Zimbabwe Board of Older Persons hereby requests the government to sign it so that it may be ratified. It is critical that we use this opportunity to renew our commitment to address the challenges faced by older persons in Zimbabwe and strengthen dialogue, partnerships and planning to improve their quality of life.

“As the national body representing rights of older persons in Zimbabwe, the board is in serious consultations with the government through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services and other stakeholders to make sure that this policy is passed.

“Time has come for Zimbabwe to take that bold step to change the lives of older persons, especially now when pensions have been eroded by inflation, when the burden weighs heavily on old people and when the general economic situation is making it difficult for family support to be forthcoming. It is now that we should be talking of safeguarding and making sure that older persons are included in all development programmes,” Gavi said.

She expressed concern that thousands of older people were struggling alone to make ends meet, access health services while suffering abuse from family members.

“They (older persons) need greater support. It is also a time to ensure greater support for the many older persons who are caregivers of grandchildren orphaned and affected by AIDS and calamities like Cyclone Idai.

“The drought of last year and Covid-19 only add to the problems faced by older persons. The board also urges stakeholders in the humanitarian sector to consider the situation of older persons during emergencies. They need personal protective equipment, food, psychological support and a well-coordinated humanitarian response.”

The board was established through the Older Persons Act, which was passed in 2012 and gazetted in 2017.

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