PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said the government should reward the elderly in the same way war veterans of the 1970s liberation struggle were treated because they also played a critical role during that war.
Report by Everson Mushava, Chief Reporter
The MDC-T leader was addressing senior citizens at a belated Old Persons Day commemorations in Harare. According to a United Nations resolution of 1990, the Old People’s Day should be commemorated worldwide on October 1.
Tsvangirai said government should take responsibility of the old people’s welfare as a matter of policy as most of them lost their pensions during the period of hyperinflation and were now depending on their offspring.
“Most of them also fought in the liberation struggle by supporting the war veterans,” Tsvangirai said.
“The guerrilla fighters used to say they were the fish and the people — most of whom are today’s elderly — were the water. Some of the old men here developed bald-heads due to carrying pots with hot food for the war veterans in the bushes.
“They also deserve to be treated the same way the war veterans are treated today.”
Government in the late 1990s introduced a war victim’s compensation fund that saw many liberation war fighters receiving huge gratuities.
Tsvangirai suggested that government should introduce monthly stipends for the elderly and offer them free healthcare, among other benefits.
Speaking at the same event, MDC-T organising secretary
Nelson Chamisa said his party would make these commemorations a national event.
“It is not electioneering. We are guided by the UN statutes. It is a gesture of appreciation to our elders for their efforts in industry, commerce, agriculture and raising children who are now today’s doctors, engineers and so on,” Chamisa said.
One of the elderly men in attendance, Paul Dengeza, said he felt overwhelmed by the gesture shown by Tsvangirai in honouring the elderly, something he had never witnessed in his entire life.
“We fought for this country but there is never a day when we have been gathered as senior citizens to be thanked on the job we did,” Dengeza said.