Enact Older Persons Bill to Protect Elderly, Malawi’s Catholic Bishop to Legislature

Bishop Peter Chifukwa, of Malawi's Dedza Diocese. Credit ECM

The Catholic Bishop of Malawi’s Dedza Diocese has called upon the members of parliament in the country to debate and enact older persons bill into law in order to protect the rights of the elderly from violation and abuse.

In a Tuesday, November 30 report, Bishop Peter Chifukwa said that if the bill is enacted into law, it will protect the elderly from Witchcraft-based Violence (WBV) and other attacks targeting older people in the Southern African nation.

“By engaging the legislators, the church foresees 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,” Bishop Chifukwa says in the report.

He adds, “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,”

The Local Ordinary of Dedza Diocese spoke about the church’s continued role in sensitizing its faithful about their spiritual duty of protecting weaker groups. 


He said that Malawi is not only lacking proper legislation for the elderly but that other vulnerable groups have also been forgotten.

The meeting, which was held at Catholic Secretariat Offices in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe during the lobby dinner engagement organized by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), the governance arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), had the Catholic Members of Parliament in attendance.

The Catholic Bishop further said that the bill, if enacted, will not only protect the rights of the elderly but also create public demand for fair, equitable finance, distribution of resources and protection.

Speaking at the same occasion, the National Coordinator for CCJP, Boniface Chibwana, said that their recent assessment in some Districts in the country indicate that WBV is still upheld in a section of communities.

Mark Katsonga, a lawmaker in the country, provided the assurance that the bill would find its way to the floor of the house where it would be passed.

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“This is an important bill that will see the end of the plight of the elderly. Older persons in Malawi live under harsh conditions, especially those living in rural areas where access to essential services are limited,” Mr. Katsonga has been quoted as saying in the November 30 report.

He further says that despite the existence of older persons’ policy in the country that provides an opportunity for addressing the problems and challenges facing the elderly, lack of adequate awareness, poor coordination, low funding and lack of specific supporting legal frameworks render it useless in safeguarding and protecting the elderly.

The lobby dinner engagement that provided platform for the discussion of the older persons’ policy was based on CCJP’ project titled, “Enhancing Social Accountability in Local Governance to Reduce Inequalities for an Inclusive Malawi.”

The project is being implemented in partnership with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Danish Church Aid (DCA).

Media reports indicate that Malawi is one of the African countries in which WBV cases have been experienced and older people are normally targeted in this violence.


According to the media reports, Malawi’s Neno district is one of the areas that has experienced “mob violence and persecution of elderly persons in the name of witchcraft.”

“Many elderly persons have lost their lives or have their property destroyed following allegations of witchcraft. Some of the survivors have been rendered homeless,” Malawi’s Minister for Civic Education and National Unity, Timothy Pagonachi Mtambo says in the August 25 report.

The government official noted that elderly people are human beings and have a right to life and dignified treatment.