Malawi Government is now mandated to give citizens aged 65 and above a K20,000 monthly allowance starting next year.
Today, Parliament has passed a motion requiring government to provide financial assistance to older people who are not on pension.
Member for Zomba Changalume John Chikalusa of People’s Party presented the motion in Parliament saying the move will help alleviate the challenges the elderly face.
“That considering the numerous challenges which the elderly face in this country such as high level of chronic illness, widowhood, disability as well as inadequate financial support, this House resolves that as is the case in Zambia, Kenya and Botswana, all senior citizens who are 65 years old and above, but are not on pension, should be considered for assistance with a view to lessening their suffering and economic hardships and provide them and their households with predictable income as well as assist them to invest in income generating activities,” reads the motion.
Malawi has previously been ranked Africa’s worst country for older people, second only to war-torn Afghanistan in the world. Advocates have been calling for the adoption of a universal social protection programme in the country.
Ironically, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Cecilia Chazama opposed the move saying senior citizens benefit from programmes such as social cash transfer in which selected beneficiaries receive a monthly allowance.
However, many legislators supported the motion since all senior citizens in the country will benefit.
Malawi Vice President who is also UTM leader and Malawi Congress Party President Lazarus Chakwera had both promised to introduce the welfare benefits for older people in their 2019 manifestos.
Meanwhile, some social commentators are deeply skeptical about the programme’s sustainability.
“I am worried we’re becoming too used to free things, and now we want to broaden the welfare state without the means of sustainability. We can’t just recklessly pass legislation to be spending billions on all Malawians above 65” warns renowned writer and social commentator, Stanley Onjezani Kenani, of the motion.