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Speaker says the elderly must stand up and be counted Print E-mail
23 June 2017

The City of Johannesburg’s Speaker of Council, Cllr Vasco da Gama, has urged senior citizens to stand up and be counted and not only point fingers if they want their neighbourhoods to be improved.

Cllr Da Gama was speaking during a Senior Citizens’ Empowerment Forum at the Don Mateman Hall in Eldorado Park in Region G on Thursday June 22. The theme of the engagement session was: “Empowering Senior Citizens for Democratic Participation.”

Cllr Da Gama, who was accompanied by ward councillors Peter Rafferty and Fazel Jaffer and Regional Director Mickey Padiachee, said since the ushering of the new administration following the August 3 2016 local government elections, the City had reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to deepening and broadening support to senior citizens and to entrenching their participation in the affairs of the City.

The Speaker said the City was committed to ensuring clean governance and the effective use of City resources to deliver quality and reliable services. He said the Constitution guaranteed all South Africans, especially the marginalised and vulnerable members of the society, fundamental rights.

Cllr Da Gama said the City sought to give full effect to these rights. However, he said, “our bias to the defence and protection of the needs and rights of our senior citizens remains resolute”.

“This new administration does not only wish to broaden and deepen these forms of socioeconomic protection but we wish to bring our senior citizens into the centre of democratic participation in the affairs of the City. We hope to continue to intensify consultative processes and dialogues with our senior citizens.”

He said the City was aware that the elderly faced many challenges, such as the lack of access to clean drinking water, electricity, safety and security, healthcare, housing, clean environment and food security, as well as poverty.
Da Gama said the Constitution guaranteed their right to human dignity and equality. He said the challenges many senior citizens faced made the reality of constitutional rights a distant future.

“We are aware that instead of enjoying your old age, you have assumed a new role. With your little old age grant you have assumed the role of breadwinners, caregivers to your children and grandchildren and pillars of your families.

“This is not an easy role for an elderly person but circumstances of many senior citizens have forced this responsibility upon them. As a City, we recognise these challenges you have to face.

“Beyond being robbed of their pension money, even by their own children and grandchildren, our senior citizens carry the burden of crime, drug abuse, robbery, burglary, theft and a general feeling of being unsafe," the Speaker said.

The senior citizens were given an opportunity to raise their concerns, which ranged from power outages, the lack of housing, crime to the high rate of unemployment, drug abuse and being treated with disrespect by City employees.

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Last Updated on 23 June 2017