Ugandan MPs worry over slashed Amisom pay

Saturday April 23 2016

Uganda parliament is worried over the morale and efficiency of the country’s army, currently seconded to Somalia by the African Union to fight the Al Shabaab.

According to the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs, a cut in the allowances of the troops and delays of as long as four months in releasing the pay, besides non-compensation for use of military hardware are disconcerting.

Now the committee wants the government to show economic benefits of the country’s continued role in the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

“The government should re-examine the terms and conditions relating to Amisom operations and assess its performance in terms of costs and benefits to the country and report back to the house within three months after adoption of the this report,” reads the Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs on ministerial policy statement tabled before the house last week.

Recently, it was announced that the allowances had been slashed by upto $400 effective January, after the European Union cut its spending on Amisom by 20 per cent. The EU spends about $200 million a year on the mission.

READ: AU expresses concern over impending Amisom pay cut


The EU paid each Ugandan peacekeeper $1,028, a figure that would fall to $828 after the government deducted $200 for preparation expenses. With the latest cuts by EU, the peacekeepers earning has been slashed by another $200, reducing further their take home allowance to $628.

Uganda’s delay in remitting and eventual reduction in allowances according to the report by the committee, is as a result of delayed disbursement of Amisom funds.

The Ministry of Defence budget, at Ush1,498 trillion ($446 million) in the 2016/2017 budget is lower than USh1,566 trillion ($475.2 million) that was allocated for 2015/2016.

By the end of March, only Ush98 billion ($29.1 million) out of the total Amisom financing of Ush298.3 billion ($88.6 million) had been released.

“The delay in disbursement of Amisom financing not only demoralises troops but also affects the efficiency of the operations,” said Namugwanya Bugembe, chairperson, Defence committee.

Parliament now wants the government to reject the EU’s reduction of troops’ allowances, saying the current earnings do not match risks Ugandan soldiers are exposed to while in operation in Somalia.

The MPs’ views are in tandem with those of the African Union leadership’s, which is troubled a lower budget could have a negative impact on the mission’s day-to-day operations.

“This measure will no doubt affect the personnel who are making the ultimate sacrifice in service for Africa, especially now, when more is expected of Amisom. It is my view that we should pursue various funding mechanisms to sustain the current support for Amisom,” Francisco Caetano José Madeira, head of Amisom, said.

Amisom is the only peacekeeping mission in Somalia supporting transitional government structures, implementing national security plans, training Somalia forces and assisting to create safe conditions for the provision of humanitarian assistance.

At the moment, about 22,000 troops seconded from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are deployed in the country to fight Al Shabaab.

READ: EU moots plan to cut funding for Burundi troops in Somalia

Of concern to the MPs also is the failure by the UN to honour its part of the bargain in the signed memorandum of understanding with Uganda government that it would compensate or reimburse government-owned equipment that would be lost due to depreciation or damage.

“Government should fast-track payment of arrears amounting to $10.6 million to compensate for wear and tear of equipment in line with the MoU,” reads the report.

The value of depreciation or damage occurred between March 2007 and January 2009.