HRDC vows to push for stipend for the elderly


The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) says its first assignment in 2023 will be to ask government to fulfil its promise made during the election campaign that it would be giving a K30,000 honorarium per month to the elderly.

HRDC Northern Region Coordinator Walita Mkandawire said this during an interaction with elderly people at Bolero Trading Centre in Rumphi.

Mkandawire said it is sad that the elderly are still facing abuse in the country, despite government promising to protect them and take care of their social and economic needs.


He cited the case of a 77-year-old woman in Mzimba who was harassed by some people who accused her of having killed her daughter-in-law through witchcraft as “extremely worrying”.

“Our first assignment is to meet the Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to update us on what has delayed government from implementing the honorarium promise.

“Malawians have not forgotten the promise they made during the campaign. The harassment that the elderly are going through is as a result of lack of care by the government,” Mkandawire said.


Officials from the Ministry of Gender were not immediately available for comment.

Recently, the Malawi Network of Older Persons Organisation (Manepo) also expressed concern over government’s apparent laxity in dealing with problems that people of advanced years face in the country.

Manepo Executive Director Andrew Kavala said many older people are subjected to all manner of physical, mental and verbal abuse mainly linked to witchcraft allegations.

During its campaign ahead of the June 23 presidential election, the Tonse Alliance—led by now-President Lazarus Chakwera—promised to be giving an honorarium to elderly people for their social protection if elected to power.

The promise is yet to be fulfilled.

Dozens of elderly people have been killed in Malawi the past five years after their attackers accused them of practising witchcraft.

However, the country’s laws forbid accusing someone of practising the act or being a witch.

Still, observers have highlighted gaps in the Witchcraft law which was enacted in 1911 with the aim of eradicating what colonialists referred to as dangerous practices such as trial by ordeal, the use of charms and witchcraft itself.

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