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South Africa: SA President Hosts Lunch for Elderly Men and Women
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 01, 2013

Earlier in the day the ‘gogos’ and ‘mkhulus’ proved there is truth in the saying “age is nothing but a number” when they stepped onto the dance floor and enjoyed dancing to the music by the South African National Defence Force band.
One of the elderly men persuaded the President to dance too.
Earlier in an address to his elderly guests, Zuma made a passionate plea for South Africans to promote and respect the dignity of older persons, adding that they were the example of what the country should be.
“We get together this time each year to reaffirm that our citizens are important to this country and should be taken seriously,” said Zuma.
The National Older Persons Week will be observed until 6 October. The theme for this year is ‘the future we want, what older persons say’.
He said the theme emphasised the importance of involving older persons in decision-making and policies that affect senior citizens. Older persons were capable of deciding what was best for them, said Zuma.
Government departments will roll out national celebrations during the course of the week and dialogues will be held which focus on the roles, rights and well-being of older persons in society.
Since 1994 government’s comprehensive social assistance progamme has reduced poverty among the elderly. Of the 16 million people receiving social grants, three million are senior citizens who receive the old age grant every month.
“We have also extended the reach of the old age grant by enabling men to obtain the grant at the age of 60 instead of 65. We have also made it possible for the older persons who care for their grandchildren or children in need of care to receive foster care grants,” said Zuma.
Government was preparing to phase out the means test for the old age grant. This is expected to be done by 2016.
But Zuma said while life had improved for many of them, the elderly were still vulnerable.
He said the abuse and negligence of elderly people was a violation that constituted a serious infringement of the human rights of our senior citizens.
This was also a concern expressed by the Older Persons Forum, a body that represents the rights of the elderly across the country. It said the rape of elderly people was a worrying issue in South Africa.
“It is something that pains us Mr President. But we thank the police because they assure us that there will be no place for such people in our society,” said the forum’s acting Chairperson Ivy Ketse.
Older persons often struggled to collect their pension because they had to walk long distances to pay points. The Department of Social Development, which organised today’s event, has been urged to look into the possibility of subsidising transport for the aged on grant pay out days.
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