An 80-year-old retiree, Lawrence Lule Tindamanyire who once served as an employee of the East African Community (EAC), is facing hardships as he seeks his pension from the government.
Tindamanyire, a resident of Karama village in Bunono parish, Nyarushanje sub-county, Rukungiri district, joined the EAC on July 10, 1967, working as a secretary.
He later pursued an advanced course in secretarial work at the commission’s registrar office in Arusha, Tanzania, a role he continued until the community’s dissolution in 1977.
Following the dissolution of the EAC, Tindamanyire and his fellow former employees were presented with two options: to apply for positions within their home governments or to exit public service altogether.
Due to the challenging war situation in Uganda at the time, coupled with his deteriorating health, Tindamanyire opted for retirement.
In November 2000, an out-of-court settlement was reached between the Government of Uganda and former EAC employees, stipulating that the government would disburse at least UGX 45 billion in retirement benefits to the group affected by the sudden termination of their contracts.
This agreement marked the conclusion of a protracted legal battle that had been initiated by the former EAC employees in court in 1996.
The government was expected to make these payments through the Ministry of Public Service.
Per the agreement, the workers were to receive pension arrears dating back to July 1, 1977, up to the present, and subsequent monthly pensions as outlined in the Pension Act of the EAC cap 11 and the Pensions Act 281, amended by decree 6/1978.
After this agreement, Tindamanyire received UGX 8 million as pension arrears, paid in two installments that concluded in 2001. Regrettably, he has not received any further pension payments since then, despite numerous government requests for him to verify his particulars for the clearance of his monthly pension.
Currently residing in his son’s home after his own house sank into the ground due to heavy rainfall a year ago, Tindamanyire is appealing to the government to fulfill its commitment so that he can lead a dignified life in his old age.
Tindamanyire’s children express their deep concern about their father’s plight, emphasizing that it is distressing to witness his struggle, especially given his years of service in a respected commission, which should have guaranteed him a comfortable retirement.
Silver Baguma, the chairperson for pensioners in Kigezi sub-region, reports that his office routinely receives complaints from various former public workers who have not received their pensions. He calls for immediate attention to Tindamanyire’s case, particularly as he is also grappling with a spinal ailment.
Remarkably, after nearly 45 years since the dissolution of the first East African Community (EAC), 156 listed former employees from Uganda remain unaccounted for, preventing them from receiving their pensions and gratuity.
The 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, informed Parliament on March 12, 2023, that her Ministry has set aside UGX 7 billion to pay former EAC employees, but this amount remains unclaimed as the 156 beneficiaries failed to come forward, despite a list being advertised in the media in December of the previous year.