Eight years down the line, the 69-year-old, who still has the responsibility of looking after two orphaned grandchildren and a son, wonders whether he will ever get his compensation and benefits from his former employer.
“I worked for Lafarge for 25 years and am still battling to get my compensation. Though they assisted me in getting treatment, the management has become silent about my compensation package and this is unfair,” lamented Warikandwa.
“I think government must intervene. As a senior citizen who contributed to the development of this country and the company in particular, I expect a better living through my pensions and benefits,” he added.
He urged government to create a society that respected and was helpful towards older people. He called for a vibrant social welfare system that people could rely on to make ends meet.
“Our pensions just vanished from our accounts when the inclusive government adopted the multi-currency in 2009 and nothing has been done,” he said.
Ambuya Chimuti (63) of Zengeza 3 looks after seven orphaned grandchildren. He commended the government’s basic education assistance module, but said government could do better. “Government, through the department of social welfare, should also provide school uniforms and clothes for orphans, vulnerable children and the elderly.
We are starving and cannot put food on the table. When I try to sell vegetables, the council raids all my wares and I have nowhere to turn to,” she said, adding that government needed to subsidise older people’s rents and remove medical fees, which were a burden on them.
“We are having difficulties when our grandchildren on BEAM go for Form 1.
School clerks and headmasters take advantage of us, demanding cash up- front and bribes to accept our children. BEAM starts to release second term fees after the child is regularised and we do not have anywhere else to raise the required $200 fees for the first term, let alone the uniforms,” said Chimuti.
Maria Denson (62) of Tafara said, together with her 55-year old unemployed husband, they had the burden of looking after eight grandchildren.
“They all go to school and we are suffering and starving as we have no income and depend on well-wishers. Some of my grandchildren are always in and out of school due to lack of school fees. I would like to urge government to remember us and do something for the underprivileged,” she said.
Another senior citizen, Austen Maririmba (66) believes there is need of a national pensions scheme, where older people get at least $50 a month and unemployment benefits.
“Government should put its house in order and downsize its structures. If Ian Smith could do it with a 12-member cabinet, why do we need 26? Soldiers should be trained and released as there is no need to keep 100,000 of them in the barracks because that is expensive and that money can be used to better our lives,” said Maririmba.
Maririmba said the idea of homes for older people was not practical nor was it culturally applicable in the African context.
“We have many of them – SOS, Salvation Army’s Bumhudzo and Ethel Evans homes – but they are empty because Africans think that if they put their elderly in those homes they have abandoned them.
“Thus it is government’s responsibility to assist older people in their own homes through grants.”Post published in: News