Francistown — The Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Setlhabelo Modukanele, says government values the contribution made by the elderly in developing Botswana.
Giving a keynote address during a recent commemoration of the International Day of the Elderly in Francistown, Mr Modukanele explained that 'as a nation, we must acknowledge that older people are vibrant and essential contributors to the development and stability of our society.'
Mr Modukanele said more could still be done to utilise the elderly's wisdom and knowledge for nation building and unity hence the Setswana adage "letlhaku le lesha le agelwa mo go le legologolo."
With regard to the challenges that the elderly faced such as poverty, poor housing and social security and protection, Minister Modukanele said government was willing to eradicate the challenges though there were equally competing ones such as unemployment.
Another major challenge Minister Modukanele alluded to was isolation of the elderly because children eventually moved away from home thus creating a challenge for government to look after such individuals.
Despite these challenges, Mr Modukanele said older persons contributed to building societies and continued to do so.
He said government alone could not shoulder the responsibility of providing for the elderly and appealed to the private sector, NGOs, the community and other partners to assist develop them.
Minister Modukanele applauded the elders who were present in Botswana at independence and those present today and wished them a long life.
The theme: The Journey to Age Equality, Mr Modukanele said, addressed President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi's roadmap of inclusiveness.
"This theme challenges us as a nation, to ensure that the elderly are well taken care of and are taken on board so that they can live long and fulfilled live and that this could only be accomplished if the nation can cherish them, care for them and not make them feel like they are a burden or liability," he said.
Department of Social Services and Protection director, Mr Hamilton Mogautsi, said the event was intended to sensitise the public on the elderly's importance, the challenges they faced as well as their experiences.
Mr Mogautsi said elderly people played a significant role in society as leaders, caretakers and custodians of tradition yet were also highly vulnerable to many challenges.
Meanwhile, a member of Bagodi-Sedi-La-Sechaba committee in Monarch, Mr Modisaotsile Mothibi appealed to government to exempt the elderly from paying service levy, water and electricity bills because the old age pension allowances was too little to accommodate such.
Monarch deputy president, Kgosi Lebonetse Ramasaka said it was a challenge for many to attain the age of 65 years.
She said it was a blessing for those who reach such an age and that families with members that old were blessed because they instilled discipline and were a solution to boredom because of their tales.
Source : BOPA