Tanzania Older People Platform also known as TOP, is disappointed with the government’s 2012/2013 budget which they claim has overlooked them despite earlier assurances to them of consideration.
Speaking yesterday during an interview in Dar es Salaam with The Guardian Ltd offices, Miriam Oning’o, a member of Tanzania Older People Platform was of the impression that Gaudentia Kabaka the Minister for Labour and Employment had recently at a meeting in Arusha guaranteed them that the government will allocate funds to care for older folks.
“Minister Kabaka told the public at NSSF annual meeting in this budget year, the government will include older people to assist them in various services such as health care. We waited anxiously and paid keen attention to the budget session, yet in the end ….nothing was heard,” she complained.
Oning’o who is also a bursar with Older People Association of Arusha (CHAWAMA) is pointed out that older people play a vital role in the Tanzanian society especially today and without their contribution, Miriam believes that millions of families would hardly survive.
“We have been caring for orphans and grandchildren left behind by the youth, we also contribute to the household as well as the nation’s income...” she stated, adding sadly that older folk in the country feel,”…abandoned by their government.”
She revealed that the older people in Tanzania continue to be oppressed and victimised by poverty, violence and other abuses. Despite this reality, the activist mentioned the difficulties and hardship associated with limited access to health services, education and legal protection.
“With no pension income, the elderly are often forced to work hard in unrewarding jobs or most of which are extremely demeaning to self and even their dependants,” she grieved and pleaded with parliament and government to “…include the elderly in their budget if they are to survive the ever stiffening economic hardships.”
The Tanzania Older People’s Platform is a network dedicated to securing older people's rights. They currently work with 15 sister groups countrywide and directly represent nearly 2.1 million older people in Tanzania.
Help Age International which helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives conducted research which showed acute elder abuse cases in the country.
The abuses range from mental, emotional and psychological to physical, financial and social segregation and isolation.
This social stigma has led to some fatalities particularly in Tanzania, where superstitious beliefs have led to the brutal killing of innocent elderly. World Heath Organization statistics place the figures at 500 murders of elderly women each year due to witchcraft associated speculations.
Statistics from the organisations website show 96% of older people don’t get any social security. More than 80% of all older people live in rural areas. Older people take care of 40% of Tanzania’s 2 million orphans and vulnerable children and that 38% of households headed by older people live on less than US$1 a day.