UPDF in Somalia complain over pay cuts

Kampala (Keydmedia) - The successful UPDF operations in Somalia could be undermined by issues of remuneration as soldiers are complaining of delayed payment and unclear deductions from their allowances.
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Some soldiers deployed in Somalia have told Sunday Monitor that $200 (about Shs500,000) out of $750 (about Shs1.5m) is deducted from their pay monthly without clear explanation.

They also say an increment to $1,028 a month that was promised by the commander of Land Forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala, when he visited the troops in January, has not been received.

And that compensation for the dead or injured is usually not received by all or if they do, it’s stressful to access as one has to be connected to powerful officers in order to easily be paid.

But the army denies any ill intentions and acknowledges some delays in payment; which, according to them, is not by commission.
The agitated soldiers told this newspaper that when Gen. Katumba made the pay rise promise, they were excited but that was soon extinguished when the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, who reportedly visited them and said there would be no increment.

One Maj. Kamara who had been deployed in Somalia reportedly raised the matter of delayed remuneration and compensation to Gen. Aronda during his January visit. After the incident though, Maj. Kamara was reportedly sent back home and asked to report to the Chief of Personnel and Administration for redeployment which, however, has not happened to-date. It is not known if the two developments are linked. We failed to reach Maj. Kamara for his side of the story.

The soldiers say their Burundian counterparts are paid all their allowances without any deductions, something they say, would have been adopted by the Ugandan government.

“We became suspicious after the CDF contradicted Gen. Katumba on our pay rise,” a soldier said on condition of anonymity, “They say $200 is deducted for equipment but the UN told us that the government had been paid for two years and equipment provided.”

However, Gen. Wamala told Sunday Monitor on Thursday that the increment had been made and payment done up to May. He defended the $200 deduction saying it was meant to take care of other provisions.

“It was part of the MoU which is in black and white,” said Gen. Wamala, “When we went into the mission, the MoU between Uganda and AU said Uganda was going to be a budget neutral operation meaning that the government of Uganda would not provide anything in its budget.”

Money venture?
He said the soldiers who thought the mission was for making money would continue complaining. Defence Ministry and army spokesman Felix Kulayigye confirmed the increment had been made but the soldiers were paid the old rate of $750.

“ It’s true the payment was supposed to be $1,028 beginning with the first disbursement of this year from January to April but the UN only sent money at the rate of $750,” he said, “ The top-up has been sent to make it $1,028; they (troops) are going to receive the top-up effective Tuesday next week.”

Soldiers had told us that they received only one month pay in June but Lt. Col. Kulayigye has said payment for January to March had been done. “ It’s not true that we paid only one month; in fact even money for May has been received on the government account but not yet accessed by the soldiers,” he said.

The army publicist said the alleged delays in payment and compensation were partly the African Union problem. “That is a problem in Addis-Ababa,” he said, “The issue of compensation is not Uganda government; AU pays after doing their own study.”

On the deductions, Lt. Col. Kulayigye said “in the MoU, the government is entitled to retain $200 for operational costs.” He, however, did not say why that deduction is still counted on the soldiers allowances not as a direct remittance from AU to the government of Uganda. The soldiers see it as a tax on their pay by the government yet their operation logistics were provided for by AU and UNISOA, a UN logistics body.

The soldiers who spoke to us were suspicious that their superiors could either be making a killing through the cuts or making profits through the banks by delaying remittance of their allowances.

But Lt. Col. Kulayigye said although there were individual weaknesses the army was addressing, the troops in Somalia were excited.

Source: daily monitor

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