Community Development Food Health Social

National Policy on elderly and vulnerable people imperative: Prof Mavima

Public Service Minister Professor Paul Mavhima hands over groceries to Elderly at Mazowe Bridge Old People's Home in Rushinga in Mount Darwin

By Anyway Yotamu

The government has plans to launch the national elderly policy document in partnership with stakeholders that will guide programs and other developmental issues on the matter.                                                            

Speaking to this publication on the sidelines of the commemorations of the International Day of Older Persons at Mazowe River Bridge Old People’s Home in Rushinga District in Mashonaland Central Province yesterday, Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said, “The policy is now before Cabinet. Once approved, it is going to guide us with programs for elderly people. We already have the Older Persons Board and this Board is the one that helped us in the development of the policy and once approved, it is going to give us direction as well as the board and all government departments that deal with the issues of the elderly people including the department of social development in developing specific programs,” he said.

The National Elderly Policy Document is also expected to address issues affecting elderly people.                            

“This document is going to address certain issues affecting elderly people in their communities. A huge percentage of these people don’t live in our institutions so we need to come up with strategies to help them and also support them because a lot of them are responsible guardians as they are looking after their grandchildren so we need to give them support,” said Professor Mavima.                                    

He added that “We’re giving them food but it needs to be scaled up and I am going to engage the inter Ministerial Committee on Grain to deliberate on the matter to ensure that the country can mobilize enough grain to last us until the next harvest which is April 2021. The government is making sure every district is covered under the drought relief program especially as we go towards December and January. We are working with the World Food Program (WFP) in other districts starting from this month but I want to emphasize that as a government we will make sure that no one is going to die of hunger. We did it last year and we’re also going to succeed this year.”         

Mashonaland Central Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Monica Mavhunga said due to drought experienced in the district, 70 080 vulnerable families benefited from 3 054 metric tonnes of grain. She said the grain was inadequate and hunger remains a serious threat, especially in Rushinga since the area is drought-prone,                                

“It is our sincere hope that we will work to save our people from hunger. Safety nets have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we appreciate the efforts by the government through the social welfare ministry to ensure the protection of the vulnerable people in our communities,” added Senator Mavhunga.                                        

Mrs. Priscilla Gavi who’s the Older Persons Board Chairperson said they need great support in order for them to strategize and strengthen dialogue and partnerships to improve the quality of life of the elderly.                                                                

“I would like to lay emphasis on the need to have a Policy on the ageing now as advocated by the Minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare. As the National board representing the right of older persons in Zimbabwe, the board is in serious consultations with the government through the Ministry and other stakeholders to make sure that this policy is passed. The time has come to make sure that bold steps are taken to change the lives of older persons especially now when pension has become eroded by inflation when the burden of orphans weighs heavily on old people and 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 programs,” she said. 

Various companies and organizations donated to the Old People’s Home. These include Delta Beverages (ZW$ 1 million), KDV (15 beds, 20 bells, clothes) as well as blankets and rice from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare while 50 grocery hampers were provided by Help Age Zimbabwe.            

The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated on the 1st of October annually since 1990 and this year’s theme is “Pandemics, Do they change the way we address Age and Ageing?”

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende