Dr. Aminah Zawedde, the PS for the ICT ministry is the latest technocrat in Gen.Museveni’s NRM government to join a growing list of those hated by a section of Ugandans.
Uganda Telecom Limited pensioners who formerly worked under Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC) are accusing the ICT ministry of dragging feet on their pension cash by paying less and acting at a snail speed.
On May 30, this year, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance released a list of former employees of UPTC and later UPL, UTL, alerting them that their Pension arrears for FY 2021/2022 had been released.
But to date some beneficiaries claim to have received less of what was expected, others half while others are yet to see anything.
They are now pointing fingers at PS Zawedde as a stumbling block.
“…it has been four months going into the fifth month, UTL/ UPL pensioners have never received their pension funds despite the Ministry of Finance having released funds a long time ago. We have tried all routes and the only person everyone is saying is the young PS, Dr Zawedde!” rants one of the beneficiaries in a complaint seen by this publication.
And another one adds: “This lady travels out of the country every week, and she does not leave any one in charge. Imagine just last week she was in Romania with Minister Baryomunsi [Chris], she returned only this week again and departed for China. I am one of the pensioners who is also employed and every month I pay Ug.shs.2,000,000/ as PAYE which means I contribute to this lady’s [PS Zawedde] expenses but she has totally refused to sign off our pension payroll.”
To their dismay, the affected pensioners further observe that on several occasions “we have reached out to the PS Ggoobi [Ramathan] to find out as to why she does not pay but all is in vain, efforts to reach her office is the worst experience. Her PA is the worst, the moment you mention pension she hangs up the phone.”
They are now wondering whether the PS works in the interest of the NRM government or a certain group which some Ugandans christened ‘mafia’ who are “keeping our monies on fixed deposits to gain interest”.
“Majority of our former colleagues have no jobs and are nursing ailments and always cursing as to why they ever had to work for a government. This PS, Dr Zawedde is the most ungrateful lady who does not care about anyone apart from herself. How does she leave office without leaving anyone in-charge,” retorts another pensioner.
It should be noted that on 8th July, Bernard Mweteise, wrote to the ICT ministry raising a number of complaints concerning their pension.
According to the letter, even those who have been paid are complaining of receiving less. The letter cites one of the pensioners who is supposed to be paid Ugx9.5m but has only received Ugx1.3m. Another pensioner is alleged to have received Shs2.3m instead of 6.7m. The list is big. The pensioners claim that when they complained, one of the ICT ministry officials, Moses, reportedly told them that Auditors from the Ministry of Finance came to the ICT ministry and altered the payroll. However, on 7th July, Mweiteise reportedly talked to Isingoma Hussein, MoFP&ED Asst. Commissioner Internal Audit who reportedly dismissed the allegations as baseless propaganda.
Isingoma clarified that their Auditors went to the ICT ministry only to verify whether the documents the pensioners submitted to the ICT ministry tally with the payroll. The pensioners now want an official explanation from the ICT ministry so that their money is cleared.
ICT SPEAKS OUT
Contacted for a comment, Julius Victor Nkeramihigo, the Under Secretary in-charge of Finance and Administration in the ministry of ICT, said they release what is given to them by the ministry of finance which comes in phases.
“We pay as when we receive the money from the ministry of finance. The verification is done by the internal auditor general, and we pay whoever has been verified.”
When asked how many people have so far been paid, Nkeramhigo said that he didn’t have the figure on his fingertips, but puts the number at about 500.
He further said that the challenge they are facing with the pensioners is that some of them are receiving their monthly pay and mistaking it to be the gratuity which is supposed to be a lump sum.