Older persons bill pointless – no money

The Older Persons’ Bill, which was passed in Parliament two weeks ago, awaits promulgation into law by President Robert Mugabe, a cabinet minister has said. But analysts have poured cold water on it, saying it is pointless and will not benefit anyone in the face of the economic woes faced by the government.

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paurina Mupariwa.
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paurina Mupariwa.

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paurina Mupariwa, told the press this week:

“I am happy to advise the nation that the Bill Has passed through houses, the House of Assembly on 12 July 2012 and the Senate on 19 July 2012 and now awaits its promulgation into law by the president.”

Zimbabwe was the first country in Sadc to work towards developing a policy for older persons by formulating the legislation in 2002.

The Bill, among other things, seeks to establish an older persons’ fund for the care and protection of the elderly. It also calls for the provision of grants, cash transfers or vouchers for the upkeep of the elderly as well as seeking to make older people lead independent and dignified lives.

As many families are in total poverty, the net result is that many elderly people are living in abject poverty and many of those, especially the elderly in their seventies and eighties, cannot work even if they wished to carry on.

But she said the government did not have resources to pay universal pensions to older persons. “For the time being, paying universal grants to older persons will depend on the availability of resources, which the government may try to mobilize,” Mupariwa said.

If signed into law, the bill would see older persons having access to services that will enhance their autonomy, protection and care, according to the Labour Minister.

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