Arthur Pillay, Westridge
Do seniors have a voice in South Africa?
As the saying goes “the youth of today, are the future of tomorrow”.
Well and good but where does that place the seniors?
Are we being put out to pasture?
Do we have the proper representation, within Parliament, or does the Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini speak on our behalf?
While I was in Kimberley in 2015 on \Parliament training, each provincial representative had to deliver a one-lined statement as to what serious problems they are facing within their province.
My statement was gangsterism and substance abuse.
The Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu responded: “How does that affect the seniors?”
This is a classical example of parliamentary members, who have a “blanket” responsibility towards the seniors, but are not a seniors themselves.
How can a person who has never been a senior before, represent approximately 4.3 million (and the numbers are still growing) older persons in the country?
It is a proven fact that ethnic or cultural ways differ from province to province, but there are other similarities.
The constitution under “Economic Abuse” reads, “the unreasonable deprivation of economic and financial resources which the older person requires out of necessity”.
Seniors are exempted from site tax (seniors still employed) but are not exempted from VAT (Value Added Tax) as seniors purchasing the essentials such as food, pay the same price as non-seniors, and keeping up with the many petrol hikes is a killer.
Finding suitable accommodation is difficult as there is nothing under R1 000.
This is because 70 percent of accom-modation for seniors in old age homes are so difficult to get in, due to insufficient space, their rigid policies or because they are privately owned.
Because we no longer belong to a medical aid fund, we get the worst treatment, by standing in long queues from early in the morning until late afternoon. This in itself, is abuse.
Is our South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) state pension enough?
Who decides what the ceiling figure is?
How and based on what are surveys done?
Does the government know how each individual spends their pension?
Yes, there are fortunate seniors, whose kids or grandkids send them money from Australia or Canada, etc, and pay for their excursion and luxuries.
Then there are the less fortunate who have no living children or grandchildren, or their kids are not by the means and struggling themselves.
So you cannot paint everyone with the same brush. Different strokes for different folks.
The churches still expect a tenth of your income as well.
I know our seniors are very proud, stubborn and independent.
They will not be satisfied with hand-outs and scraps dished out.
It is a crying shame that we are on the bottom rung of the “budget ladder”.
As inflation rises every year, including petrol prices and sugar tax, our R10 annual increase has to be stretched to its maximum.
Everyone born before 1957 and earlier, should be treated with dignity and respect.
We as South Africans are equally responsible for the country’s changes, for the better in times of war, riots and the abolishment of apartheid.
Therefore we are entitled to share the wealth of the country together with our fellow South Africans.
So Ms Minister, before presenting this year’s budget in Parliament, we implore you to seriously consider our state pension increase.
It is for this reason I would like to encourage each and every senior citizen to join a seniors’ club nearest to you or start your own club.
A senior should never use a taxi or a bus to get to the club.
It should be in close proximity.
Fifty percent of senior clubs are affiliated to The Older Person’s Forum which is the first step in aid of information and representation.
Encourage your club to participate in all senior activities including organisations such as The Older Person’s Forum (Western Cape Older Persons’ Forum, and South African Older Persons’ Forum).