By Ben Small
Presidential and parliamentary candidates in Tanzania must state their views and prospective policies affecting older people ahead of polling day, says Smart Daniel, HelpAge International's Deputy Country Director for Tanzania.
He described that attitudes towards ageing and older people, particularly in relation to pensions, are a crucial indicator when understanding the politicians' outlook on sustainable development.
"Many Tanzanians are ageing without having had formal employment," Smart said.
"And in a country where the population of older persons is on the rise, it's sad that only four in 100 people over 60 have a pension." he said.
Globally, around 25% of older people in developing countries receive a pension income.
He continued to explain that the majority of older people are poor, sick, unable to afford the basic essentials, and are having their desire to contribute to Tanzania's economy being deliberately curtailed.
For the gains of the outgoing goverment of Jakaya Kikwete to be built on, it is integral that older people's issues are brought to the centre of election campaigns.
From next April, the Zanzibar government has promised to give a pension worth TSh 20,000 (US$9.20) to all older people above 70, while a similar move is being called for in the mainland for the next financial year.
"It is important for aspiring leaders to understand that leaving out older people from their policies for sustainable development of the country would be detrimental," Leonard Ndamugoba, Programme Manager of Health and Social Protection at HelpAge International's Tanzania office
The 2012 national census showed that Tanzania has 2,507,568 people aged 60 and above. Around 80% of them live in villages subsisting either on farming, fishing or livestock - means of generating an income that rarely lead to substantial savings or pensions. It is these Tanzanians who desperately need political leaders dedicated to their cause.
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