Hope for Pension Fades for Former NRA Fighters

2415 Views Bigasa, Uganda

In short
His narration of the liberation struggle sheds a true picture about a group that devoted time, energy and commitment on a very tough mission. However, the pride of participating in the struggle fades with the agony over the failure to access his pension.

Uzairu Kasumba, a resident of Kyango Village in Bukomansimbi, is one of the forgotten heroes of the liberation struggle undertaken by the National Resistance Army-NRA fighters, led by Yoweri Museveni.

His narration of the liberation struggle sheds a true picture about a group that devoted time, energy and commitment on a very tough mission. However, the pride of participating in the struggle fades with the agony over the failure to access his pension.

In an interview with URN, Kasumba recalls that he joined the rebel outfit in 1984 after completing studies in Islamic theology, leaving behind a young family which later disintegrated upon loosing hope of seeing him again alive.

Upon conquering power in 1986, he was among the group that sent to Northern Uganda to stamp out residual combatants of the Buffalo battalion and the Holly Spirit Movement commanded by Major Eric Odwar and Alice Lakwena respectively.  He belonged to the 163rd brigade whose tactical commander was David Sejusa.
 
//Cue in; "twagenda mu nsiko….
Cue out: ….babitwala."//
 
At the time of formalizing army ranks, Kasumba was commissioned as a Staff Sergeant (RA 126779) until 1994 when he was eventually discharged, as a result of body injuries sustained during the war. The veteran is today living with visible scars on the left hand and on his forehead, which he says are fragments from military weapons.

However, Sgt Kasumba is disappointed over the failure to access the pension benefits he was promised before retirement. He explains that all his efforts to pursue the benefits have yielded no results and that the situation has reduced him to a destitute in a country he dedicated his energies to fighting for.

He cries out to President Museveni to get out of the comfort of his office and reach out to the real people that helped him accomplish his ambition.
 
//Cue in; "as fighters….
Cue out…. Army schools."//
 
Luganda
 
//Cue in; "ffe tuliwo….
Cue out…. sente zaffe."//
 
Sergeant George Muyambi, 69, another NRA veteran who lives in Bigasa Sub County also shares similar troubles and questions why they were dumped without the deserving gratuity and pension. Muyambi is disgruntled over the treatment of thousands of veterans who spent their youthful years fighting to restore democracy in Uganda.

Recalling the rough times of the bush, which they unanimously persevered during the guerilla struggle, Muyambi asks Museveni to save them from their current disgruntlement.
 
//Cue in; (Luganda) "ekisinga okutuluma…..
Cue out…..ennaku ku mutima."//
 
The duo adds to the very long list of former NRA fighters; who include widows and orphans, whose efforts of accessing pension benefits from the government have never yielded results.


But State Minister for Veteran Affairs Bright Rwamirama says the creation of the docket in government systems, is a clear manifestation on president Museveni's commitment to meeting demands of his former fighters. According to Rwamirama, the ministry has developed a new databank of veterans and eliminated all ghosts, pledging that in two years all the outstanding debts will be settled.