The elderly citizens of Alfred Nzo District Municipality demonstrated their strong support for the Older Persons Amendment Bill during public hearings conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Social Development. The hearings took place at the Umzimvubu Community Hall in Mount Ayliff, where the senior members of the community seized the opportunity to express their views on the Bill. The committee, led by Chairperson Ms. Nonkosi Mvana, listened to their concerns and suggestions on matters ranging from elderly care to financial support.
During the hearings, the senior citizens voiced several key demands, highlighting the need for improved services, safety, and financial assistance to lead a dignified life during their golden years. They urged the government to take proactive measures to address these challenges.
Building Permanent and Secure Old Age Service Centres and Homes:
The elderly citizens called on the government to provide support in building permanent and secure old age service centers and homes within the district. They emphasized the importance of well-trained security guards to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents in these facilities. Such centers would play a crucial role in providing care and companionship to the elderly, contributing to their overall quality of life.
Increased Protection for Elderly People in Their Homes:
Concerns were raised about the safety of elderly individuals living alone or with their grandchildren. The senior citizens advocated for enhanced protection measures to safeguard them from potential threats, ensuring they can live independently without fear.
Priority Treatment and Dedicated Ambulances:
The elderly citizens sought special attention and priority treatment in public services, including healthcare. They emphasized the need for dedicated ambulances to ensure timely medical assistance, reducing the waiting time when they require emergency services.
Spousal Eligibility for Old Age Grant:
One of the contentious issues raised by the elderly citizens was the denial of the old age grant to spouses of government pensioners. This situation disproportionately affected non-government employee spouses, leaving them without any income in cases of separation. They called for a revision of the law to allow all spouses, regardless of marriage status, to be eligible for the old age grant.
Ms. Nonkosi Mvana, the Chairperson of the committee, assured the elderly citizens that their concerns would be addressed appropriately. She pledged to relay issues related to healthcare services, road infrastructure, and human settlements to relevant parliamentary committees, the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, and government departments. Ms. Mvana encouraged the senior citizens to engage with their local municipalities regarding water, sanitation, and other basic service problems.
The feedback provided during these public hearings will be considered by the committee when it conducts similar hearings across all provinces. A comprehensive report will be compiled and submitted to the National Assembly for adoption. Following this, the Bill will be referred to the National Council of Provinces for further consideration before reaching the President for final approval into law.
In conclusion, the elderly citizens of Alfred Nzo District Municipality have shown their commitment to the well-being and rights of senior members of society. Their meaningful contributions during the public hearings have shed light on essential areas that require attention, aiming to create a more supportive environment for elderly individuals in the district. As the parliamentary process unfolds, the hopes are high for an improved Older Persons Amendment Bill that addresses these concerns effectively, enriching the lives of senior citizens and upholding their dignity.