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In March 2011- The Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL) made a landmark resolution that will see the Bill of older persons sailing through to Cabinet for discussions. The Cabinet Committee on legislation indicated that the bill for older persons passed the Committee stage and has now been passed to the cabinet.
The decision by the committee follows widespread efforts made by HelpAge Zimbabwe to ascertain the position of the bill. It has been reported in the media that it is not known where the bill is between the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services.
In an interview with ZBC TV, HelpAge Zimbabwe Executive Director, Mrs Priscilla Gavi indicated that this was a positive step taken by the government. She indicated that older persons have been waiting for years on end for the bill to sail through. It is therefore hoped that before year ends the bill will be an act of parliament, she said.
Currently older person’s issues are addressed partly in the Social Welfare Act. Under this act, older persons are entitled to Public Assistance. This is a fund which is only accessible as and when it is available and upon application by older persons.
If passed into law, the Older Persons Act will see the formation of a board that will look into issues affecting older persons. The board will also be responsible for drafting policies to further protect and meet the needs of vulnerable older persons as well as promoting positive contribution that senior citizens make.
The Older Persons Act will also provide for the establishment of a fund for older persons. This fund will go a long way in meeting the needs of senior citizens, who are mostly involved in caring for orphans and vulnerable children, without, however, necessary resources to do so.
In Zimbabwe, 7% of Zimbabwe’s projected 12.4 million is made up of older persons. A majority of these older persons are vulnerable due to the absence of laws and policy which protect them. Since 2002, HelpAge Zimbabwe has been advocating for the signing into law of the bill of older persons.