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MBABANE – Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini has stirred a hornets’ nest by tabling a report in Parliament over the process of implementing a Cabinet directive that will disqualify affording pensioners from receiving the monthly E240 elderly grant.

Now the elderly pensioners are mobilising to protest against that directive and already a meeting has been slanted for November 19, at the Manzini National Library.


The affording pensioners, as per the directive, are those who receive above E1 000 plus inflation every month from pension funds. This directive was issued by government in the 2009/10 financial year.
The grant itself was initiated by government in 2005 to cater for the most vulnerable population, who are above 60 years old. It is a form of social protection for elderly people who have no income of their own. Since 2010 it was supposed to benefit only those whose monthly income fell below E1 000.


Sounding very upset, Ngwane National Liberal Congress’ Ntombi Nkosi minced no words in saying the Deputy Prime Minister has embarrassed the Catholic Church, which he is a member of, by failing to stand up for their rights as elderly pensioners who have worked so hard for this land.
“We are very angry at him for saying we should not be given the elderly grants. He is saying akusiyo inika-nika. What does that mean? We deserve both our pensions and the monthly elderly grants. It is our right,” said Nkosi in an interview.

“They (ministers) are getting millions of Emalangeni compared to us. What we are getting is just peanuts. Some of us retired at a time when wages were too little; therefore, he is the last person to say that as a Cabinet minister.”
She said in other countries senior citizens were getting a lot of money plus other benefits.

“Some are even sponsored to go on holidays. Some even get Christmas hampers, blankets and other benefits. They do not segregate. But here in this country the little we are getting is being taken from our mouths. It’s a disgrace.”
Nkosi said as women Catholic Church members they have already had a discussion about this on Thursday.

She said they were very disturbed by this and they have already resolved to mobilise all the elderly people around the Manzini region as well as those from outside to a meeting.
“Batawubona intfo lebangazange bayibone. We will show them who we really are,” she said, adding that if push comes to shove “what was recently seen in South Africa where university students protested against the hike in tuition fees will play itself out once again, this time by the elderly people here in Swaziland.”

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