Senior citizens battle to survive

In a functioning economy, senior citizens like Gogo Anna Msipa’s welfare is catered for by the government. But in Zimbabwe, it is shocking to every decent soul that at the age of 88, Gogo Msipa is forced to compete with young and energetic informal traders to sell her wares in order to survive.

Gogo Anna Msipa at her flea market.
Gogo Anna Msipa at her flea market.

Gogo Msipa sells her wares at Lobengula flea market mall, competing with scores of unemployed youthful traders.

“I am a widow with no one to look after me. My husband passed away long way back. Three of my four children are also late while the other one I cannot locate him. Since my husband passed way I have been surviving through this flea market,” she told The Zimbabwean at her market stall last week.

She owns a five-roomed house in Luveve high density suburb and commutes every day to town to do her business. She sells used clothes, fruits and vegetables such as bananas and potatoes.

Resting at home

“Most of the used clothes I sell are donated by well–wishers. I also buy fruits and vegetables from the market and resell them at my stand. I use the small profit that I get to buy food and pay utility bills for my house which was left to me by my husband,” she said. He was employed at the United Bulawayo Hospital as an office orderly.

“If I had someone to cater for my welfare, I would definitely be resting at my home. Life here is tough because my competitors are young people. Sometimes customers shun my products and prefer to buy from my competitors. Apart from that, I no longer have the energy and zeal to tout for clients, which most traders here do,” she said.

Rising poverty levels in Zimbabwe owing to poor performance of the economy has seen elderly people being neglected. This has resulted in the breakdown of the extended family system. Some people resort to old people’s homes to care for the elderly, a development which is not only alien to local cultures but unfortunately wreaking havoc and turning the society into something unfamiliar and emotionally unhealthy to its most senior members.

For years, there have been numerous reports that retired senior citizens continue to receive trivial pensions. The situation is even worse for the majority of elderly folk who do not have monthly pension pay-outs to look forward to.

With the recent adoption of the Older Persons Bill by Parliament, many are waiting to see how much will be done through the provisions of the legislation to improve the lives of suffering veteran citizens like Gogo Msipa.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *