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Premier Mabuza holds a dialogue with Ehlanzeni older persons

08 April 2014

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza today [Tuesday, 08 April 2014] held a special dialogue with more than 1 500 older persons from and around Ehlanzeni District municipality.

The elderly did not waste time and told Premier Mabuza their general problems challenging their lives. In the main they complained about “not being prioritised” in getting the RDP houses, faraway clinics, cut-offs of their water and electricity that these greatly inconvenienced their lives.

Although they came from five different local municipalities [Bushbuckridge, Nkomazi, Umjindi, Mbombela and Thaba Chweu], their concerns were more or less the same as they were based on service delivery by both the provincial and local government.

They said they survived only on pension grants and their lives became extremely difficult without water and electricity due to cut-offs by the municipalities. Lack of consistency in the billing systems for water and electricity frustrated them as they were demanded to pay huge amounts of money.

They said some people walked long distances to get water from other areas. Another old woman told the Premier that at one stage she had to fetch a taxi to go to another village to have her clothes washed as her community had no water at all for weeks.

Whilst some appreciated that government had built clinics, they complained that they were far away and they operated only during the day. They asked the Premier to consider building new ones nearby as they were forced to wake up early and walk long distances.

They also told the Premier that government needed to do follow-ups on the service providers who had been awarded the tenders as their work in building the RDP houses was shabby. Another woman was heard saying her RDP house was falling apart.

Further, they said councillors did not know about their problems because they only waited for communities to come forward and tell them about their challenges.

In his response, Premier Mabuza the elderly needed to be looked after by protecting their rights. He said they had different special problems which required the government’s attention.

“As a government we should come closer to the older persons because they cannot help themselves since they are old. We are going to set up structures that will deal with issues that affect them directly, streamline them into older persons’ forums.
“This is the beginning of the journey we will walk together with them; otherwise we cannot be a nation unless we protect the rights of the elders,” said Mabuza.

Responding to issues of unemployment, Premier Mabuza called on the graduates in the province to register their information and be in the database of the municipalities in order for government to find them easily when looking for certain skills.

He explained that government was advertising the posts in the media that needed to be filled and graduates should apply just like anybody. He added that having a matric certificate was not enough, however in order to be absorbed in the labour market, they needed specific skills in order to be employable.

He explained that the provincial Health Department needed to do a yearly assessment on the clinic’s services to check if it was still necessary not to operate them 24hours a day based on the growth of the population.

With regards to the elders not having the identity documents, the Premier said such indicated a problem, and it was mostly the communities neighbouring Mozambique and Swaziland that were affected.

“It is not a given that if you are old you will be given an identity document, Home Affairs needs proof that your are a true citizen and why it took you so long to apply for one. We do not mind living here with you if you come from Mozambique or Swaziland, our government can only issue you with an ID if you are married to a South African,” said Mabuza.

The Premier further warned communities not to dump the elderly people at the old age homes, but should take them there only if they wished so.

“Black and white are different in terms of their cultures and traditions. While white prefer to take their old to these homes for the aged, black people prefer to live with their children and grand-children and be taken care of up until they die,” said Mabuza.

Other dialogues will be held in Nkangala and Gert Sibande districts a week later after Easter holidays.

Issued by Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Enquiries: Mr Zibonele Mncwango
Spokesperson: Mpumalanga Premier
Tel: (013) 766 2453
Mobile: 079 491 0163
E-mail: zmncwango@mpg.gov.za

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