City reaffirms support for senior citizens Print
08 June 2017

Scores of elderly residents of Soweto converged at the Diepkloof Welfare Centre, where they poured their hearts out on a variety of municipal-related challenges affecting them and their wellbeing.

The dialogue session, hosted by the City of Joburg’s Speaker of Council, Cllr Vasco da Gama on Wednesday, 7 June was the fourth in a series of such engagements in various regions, aimed at giving the City’s senior citizens the platform to air their views, particularly on service delivery, so the City could address them.

The Speaker said the City had just concluded holding Integrated Development Plan (IDP) meetings across all regions, where it had engaged residents on service delivery issues. But because these sessions were held at night, many senior citizens were unable to attend.

“That’s why we decided to have these dialogues now – to ensure that the elderly also have a voice,” said Councillor Da Gama.

He said the participation of the elderly in these meetings was a reminder of how important it was for the City to improve the lives of senior citizens. “We’re here because we want to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to deepening and broadening the support to senior citizens,” said Councillor Da Gama.

He said the City was aware that in their old age, senior citizens had taken on a new role of being breadwinners – caring for their children and grandchildren and being a pillar of strength for their families. “We’re aware that our elderly face many challenges, such as access to clean drinking water, electricity, safety and security, health and poverty. The Constitution guarantees you the right to human dignity and equality. The challenges you face makes the reality of these constitutional rights a distant [goal]. The City must strive to make these rights a realisable dream,” Councillor Da Gama explained.

He said the City’s biggest priority was to combat poverty among senior citizens. The City wanted to reduce the number of older persons without shelter and food and those who were being abused or uncared for or had been abandoned and make them active and productive members of society, he added.

“The City does not see senior citizens as helpless and powerless. They’re viewed as able members of society who may from time to time need a helping hand,” said Councillor Da Gama.

Housing, healthcare and safety were among major issues that dominated deliberations at the meeting.

Gogo Phindile Hlongwane of Emndeni said she was happy City officials came to address them. “There are a lot of issues we’d like to engage the City in but because we’re old it becomes very difficult for us to go to their offices," said Hlongwane
Poppy Tladi of Pimville said there was no electricity in her area for over a week recently because of protest action. Tladi said residents struggled to get City officials to come and fix the electricity.

"We'd like the City to communicate better and tell us when there will be power cuts so we can prepare better, especially now that it's winter," she said.

Gogo Elsina Mthethwa of Meadowlands asked the City to consider building a centre where the elderly could be kept busy. "Please create jobs for our kids as they end up doing drugs because they are bored and frustrated. If there are jobs then they will stop doing drugs and crime," Mthethwa said.

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