MEC and Executive Mayors celebrate with older people.

GERT Sibande District Municipality’s Executive Mayor Councillor Mishack Nhlabathi International Day for Older Persons in Carolina, Mpumalanga.
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He was in the company of Mpumalanga MEC for Health Dr Clifford Mkasi and the host’s Executive Mayor Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality Councillor Busisiwe Shiba.  The International Day for Older Persons is celebrated on October 1.  The community of Selobela in Carolina had a reason to smile on October 2 when the MEC Mkasi and Executive Mayors Nhlabathi and Shiba visited the area to deliver services.  Mkhulu Mokone Mokoena, who lives in the Nkanini section in Carolina, was the lucky old man after he received a double bed, blankets, groceries and stove from Dr Mkasi, courtesy of Department of Social Services and Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality.  Mkhulu Mokoena, who is 70 years old and does not have an identity document, was struggling to get any social grant.
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Home Affairs promised to issue him with an identity document and in the meantime Mkhulu Mokoena should request a letter from his councillor that states that he is a resident of Nkanini section in Carolina and will be offered a three-month grant before he gets his ID.  After issuing the goods to Mokoena, Dr Mkasi MEC and all his colleagues went to open the Department of Social Development offices in Carolina.  Councillor Shiba thanked MEC Mkasi for coming to Carolina to open the offices and Deliwe Mkhwanazi also thanked the MEC for the honour given to the Department of Social Development for officially opening of the building. 
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The MEC had lunch with the elders, in a way of honouring them.  Programme director for the day DW Nkosi said he is honoured to be part of the event because the grannies and grandpas are very important people. He became emotional after saying that it is sad because some of their grand-children abuse their grandparents in many ways and this should please stop. He said everyone must take care of them all the time.  Maphala Gulube, a  member of Mpumalanga Older Person’s Forum said they teach the elders more about their rights, knitting and they also do a little bit of aerobics to keep fit.  In his speech, President Zuma said:  “A study commissioned by the Department of Social Development in 2006 shows that in Mpumalanga alone, 75 percent of older persons were heads of households.  In addition, according to a report published by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF ) in 2007, 38.2 percent of young children were living in households headed by grandparents.  According to the study, the majority of grandparents who serve as primary caregivers are black women who reside predominantly in rural areas.  The study found that indeed the grandparents use their Old Age Pension to provide for their families. About three million older persons receive the old age pension from government which clearly plays a broader role than supporting senior citizens only.  In addition to orphans, older persons also support older children who are unemployed due to the economic situation in the country.”  Gulube said on October 1 they were invited to the Presidential Guesthouse to celebrate the International Day for Older People with President Jacob Zuma. She said they also requested the president to give them an office that will deal with the older people’s issues.  She also asked the Dr Mkasi to provide each and every old person with a whistle if they felt that they are not safe to blow it so they can get help.  She also stressed that the older people should not stand in queues in banks and post offices but be given first priority. 
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Three grannies who have a combined 300 years were also introduced to the guests.  Gogo Gogwani Marian Nkosi, Gogo Lina Nkosi and Gogo Khabonina Sabatho have each reached 100 years and Gulube said they have reached these milestones because of their good behaviour and urged the youth to follow in their footsteps.
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