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Senior citizens given voice at parliament

Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature Ntombi Mekgwe applauded City of Johannesburg councillors and representatives of various political parties in the council for attending a senior citizens’ imbizo in Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, on Friday October 7.

The imbizo, dubbed the Senior Citizens Parliament, was part of the legislature’s community outreach programme to give senior citizens a platform to air their views regarding the challenges they often face when they try to access government services.

Mekgwe said the purpose of the imbizo was to enable the elderly to participate in debates on governance matters and systems. She said it was important to “take parliament to communities” as it enabled the government to connect with citizens and deal with issues directly from the ground.

She said it was encouraging to see City of Johannesburg councillors and senior managers attending the event. The City’s delegation was led by Cllr Susan Clark.

During the imbizo, senior citizens complained about issues ranging from unexplained deductions from their social grants and exorbitant municipal rates and taxes. Gogo Zondo called for health services to be extended to all areas and for the City’s clinics to be opened for longer hours.

She said those taking chronic medication could not afford to always travel to clinics only to be told the medication was out of stock. “I just want my clinic to function properly,” she said.

City of Johannesburg officials who attended the event said they were encouraged by the interaction. They added that they would take some of the issues raised by the elderly to council.