Tanzania Presidential aspirants challenged to state their positions on pensions

Dar es Salaam, 17th October 2015: Contestants in the presidential and parliamentary elections in Tanzania have been challenged to expound their visions and policies towards old age before the polling date.

Speaking at a meeting in Dar es salaam on Monday and attended by HelpAge International, Older persons and the media, Smart Daniel who is the Deputy Country Director, HelpAge International, Tanzania said it is important that the electorate were made aware where these aspirants stand on the issue of old age that is projected to be a major challenge to the country’s sustainable development.

“We are having many Tanzanians aging without having had formal employment and in a country where the population of older persons is on the rise, it is sad that only 4 in 100 of people above 60 years have pension,” he said. Globally, it is estimated that 25 in 100 senior citizens are on pensions in the developing countries.

Smart said majority of older people are aging poor, sickly, unable to afford the basics of life and whose desire to contribute to the nation building is deliberately being curtailed.

He added that it is important that the issue of older persons be brought at the centre of the election campaigns if the gains made under the outgoing government of Jakaya Kikwete in the mainland Tanzania and in Zanzibar was to be sustained and enhanced.

The Zanzibar government has promised to begin giving pension amounting to Tsh20, 000  to all older people above 70 beginning April 2016 while similar move is being called for in the mainland to implementing its promise to begin giving pensions in the next financial year.

Agreeing with the sentiments, Leonard Ndamugoba, Programme Manager, Health and Social Protection, HelpAge Tanzania Country Office added that older people are the first institutions for the orphaned and vulnerable children where parents are not present. “It is important for aspiring leaders to understand that leaving out older people from their policies for sustainable development of the country would be detrimental.”

The national census of 2012 showed that Tanzania has 2,507,568 older persons above 60, 1,307,358 of which are female and 1,200,210 male and that 80% of them are in villages subsisting either on farming, fishing or keeping livestock. The statistics from the census show that 96 of all that enter the old age bracket and who ought to retire do so without any form of pension.

According to Ndamugoba, due to lack of government’s firm stance, many older people are being killed on allegations that they are witches, with women consisting the largest segment of those killed on such allegations. He said that between 2008-2013, 2,866 older people have been killed or 573 killings every year. Killings of older people intensified between 2012 and 2013 when between 630 and 765 died 94% of them being women.

He adds that 60% of older people are dying of non-communicable diseases yet, the government’s policy and funding focuses less on such diseases, leaving many older people living painful lives.

IMG_4183  Smart Daniel, Tanzania Country Deputy Director, HelpAge International