Bishop Chifukwa pleads for the enactment of Older Persons law

Bishop of the Diocese of Dedza of the Roman Catholic Church, His Lordship Peter Chifukwa, has touted the proposed Older Persons Bill as a critical tool for addressing witchcraft based violence (WBV) and attacks targeting elderly people in Malawi.

Chifukwas has since pleaded with members of Parliament (MPs) to expedite processes of debating and enacting the Bill, stressing that if enacted, the law will create public demand for fair, equitable finance, distribution of resources and protection.

Chifukwa–The proposed law will prevent further abuses of the elderly–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

The bishop was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday evening during the lobby dinner engagement with Catholic MPs.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) organized the lobby dinner engagement under its project called “Enhancing Social Accountability in Local Governance to Reduce Inequalities for an Inclusive Malawi”, which is being funded by a consortium of the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Danish Church Aid (DCA).

Chifukwa said the proposed Older Persons Bill is critical in protecting the rights of elderly, as it takes specific provisions for this vulnerable group.

Bishop Chifukwa (3rd from right) and Apostolic Nuncio Franco Gallone pose for a photo with Catholic MPs after the dinner–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

“The country is lacking a proper legislation as in the case of other vulnerable groups. Currently, Malawi has in place the National Older Persons Policy, which was developed in 2016. So, engaging parliamentarians on deplorable Human rights situation of older persons has a potential to change policy, practice and shape actions in the spheres such as social protection, access to justice, security, health, education and their independent living,” said the bishop.

He said the Catholic Church in Malawi has been sensitizing its faithful about their spiritual obligation to protect the weaker groups.

Chifukwa said by engaging the legislators, the church envisages that the National Assembly will expedite the process of debating and enacting the proposed Bill into law to prevent further abuses against the elderly people.

Neno South lawmaker Mark Katsonga assured that the Bill will find its way to the august House and passed into law in the next meeting of Parliament.

“This is an important bill that will see the end of the plight of the elderly,” he said, adding that older persons in Malawi live under harsh conditions, especially those living in rural areas where access to essential amenities are limited.

He observed that although Malawi has a policy that provides an opportunity for addressing the problems and challenges facing the elderly, inadequate awareness of the policy, poor coordination, low finding and lack of specific supporting legal frameworks render it useless in safeguarding and protecting the elderly.

CCJP National Coordinator Boniface Chibwana said their recent assessments in some districts revealed that witchcraft based violence (WBV) remains prevalent in communities, citing Karonga, Phalombe and Neno as being some of the districts registering rise WBV incidents.

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