A total of 1,868 army veterans in the districts within Ankole and Kigezi sub-regions have registered pension claims in the just concluded verification exercise conducted by government.
The claimants included those that were part of the National Resistance Army (NRA) as well as those who fought in previous regimes since World War II.
The numbers were revealed on Tuesday by the team leader for the Ankole-Kigezi zone, Maj Fred Kasimoni Mushambu who is attached to the UPDF 2nd division in Makenke barracks, Mbarara. Maj Mushambu was addressing journalists at the closure of the veterans’ verification exercise conducted in Mbarara district.
He said that a total of 1,868 files were registered out of which, 636 were living veterans, 576 deceased veterans, 275 survivors, 322 living ex-gratias (to be paid out of moral obligation), and 59 deceased ex-gratias.
The claimants were from Kiruhura, Ibanda, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Kabale, Rubirizi, Bushenyi, Sheema, Buhweju, Rukiga, Rubanda, Kisoro, Mitoma among others in the region.
Maj Mushambu said many other veterans were could not be registered due to the limited time frame for the verification exercise as well as lack of requisite documents like death certificate, discharge certificate, letters of administration and estates account.
“We have left incomplete files because of letters of administration. This has disturbed our claimants because most of these people have no money and a Judge requires a fee to issue letters of administration,” said the Major.
He also said that cases of fraudsters were encountered during the verification exercise.
“There are fraudsters competing with genuine claimants, but we tried to arrest them. They are not many in this region, but I have like four files here with me each with two claimants,” said Mushambu.
He confirmed that most of all the files worked on will have their payments made during the 2019/20 financial year.
“These people are demanding government. Any person who retires must be demanding you something, so this verification exercise is intended to clear the debts of all our veterans,” he told the press.
Maj Mushambu proposed that government instructs judicial officers to issue express letters of administration at no cost, so as to make the process convenient for the genuine claimants.
He however added that “this also has its own repercussions”.
Fraudsters are likely to take advantage of this window to secure express letters of administration, he said.
The spokesperson for the UPDF 2nd Division in Makenke, Capt Steven Tumwesigye said the exercise started in 2010 to document the details of all unpaid veterans in the country.
“Governments were changing forcefully and there was no clear transition, so veterans were left unpaid. Because of this current embracing government, veterans also need to be recognized and appreciated for the work that they did,” he said.
For one to qualify for a pension pay, Capt Tumwesigye said, he must have served in the army for more than 9 years.
He says that a total of about 70,000 veterans have been registered countrywide to receive pension.
He however said that those who did not update their data in 2010 will miss the payment.
“We started the exercise of updating in 2010. Some came, others feared. This time round, we are completing those. Whoever did not register by May 2010, we will not register him until we are given further orders because we also work under policies,” said Tumwesigye.