THE number of pensioners in Zanzibar Universal Scheme (ZUPS) may increase with raised monthly payments they get, should the economy fully recover after Covid-19 crisis.
“The eight phase government is fully committed and wants to see into it that senior citizens continue to live better life. The government will consider reducing the age from 70 to 65 to have more beneficiaries, and also raise their monthly payments, hence, let us look forward and improve the economy," said President Hussein Ali Mwinyi.
Dr Mwinyi made the promise on Monday, while opening a five-day seminar to assess and plan for 2021, especially on the 'Accountability and Fulfillment for Older people in order to Raise their Dignity (AFFORD)' project.
Participants from different countries and development partners are scheduled to debate on the protection of welfare of the elders under the project that is also being implemented in Tanzania Mainland, Malawi, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
In his speech, President Mwinyi said Zanzibar government has been doing a lot for the elders, adding there should be special clinics or windows opened for them, where there are no queues in public hospitals.
“We have been doing whatever we can, to ensure all elders live a decent life. The government started with establishing Elders Care Centres after the revolution, followed by provisions of free health care and in 2016 the ZUPS has been approving the social protection policy.
Let alone in 2014, when we planned to do more for them to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-2030 aimed at leaving no one behind,” he added.
Elaborating, the President noted that 28,513 of the elders registered as 11, 819 male for the universal pension (2019 statistics) and thanked the Irish government and the HelpAge International for supporting the project.
"Survey about the ZUPS indicates that more than 70 per cent of the elders rely directly on the universal pension. I urge respective authorities to speed-up the writing of regulations to pave way for the implement of the ZUPS law as passed by the House of Representatives last year,” said Dr Mwinyi.
Equally, he directed responsible officers at the ZUPS to adopt modern technology use, while transacting the monthly payments.
Supporting the president’s idea, the acting Minister for Health, social welfare, Women and Children, Mr Simai Mohamed Said promised to ensure the order is immediately implemented so that the elders live peacefully.
Mzee Makame, who spoke on behalf of the elders thanked the government and development partners for their support, saying: “I also commended Dr Mwinyi for garnering landslide victory in the October 27/28, 2020 General Election. We, senior citizens promise to continue supporting your plans for the country's development.”
Commenting, HelpAge International Country Director, Mr Smart Daniel, praised the Zanzibar government that they will keep on caring for the elders, adding that many countries admire policies, particularly the ZUPS with some like Uganda and Kenya beginning to copy.
He noted that the number of elders has been increasing globally including Tanzania, hence, a necessity to push for plans which offer them better policies.
Equally, he thanked the Irish government for continuing to support the HelpAge projects, prompting Embassy of Ireland Deputy Ambassador, Ms Chloe Home to also commend the government for the initiative.