For More than 30 Years serving this country, I have never gotten any penny: EX- ARMY MAN CRIES FOUL.
By: Abubakar Sematimba
Travelling on Mubende Road after Bujuuko, I passed by a cleared area and I was told that, some years back it was a National forest reserve, which was invaded by the so called 'veterans' who fought the passed Regimes of Idd Amin ,Milton Obote and Tito Okelo Lutwa, but never gotten any compensation for their service , therefore they grabbed a National forest reserve illegally as a pay back for their contribution to the country.
Unfortunately the 'invasion' was short lived by the current government through the forestry and environmental ministry, arguing that the so called veterans had occupied the forest unlawfully.
This reminds me of another area at Wakaliga Road in Kampala city, where the city council used to through garbage, it was invaded by another group of veterans, and turned into a market that exist up to present today.
I wonder what the future holds for these people who grabbed this land, if those who are miles away where forced to vacate , what about those who are in the heart of the city center, that remains a big question to answer.
In countries like South Africa, Zambia and Sudan veteran soldiers are paid for their contribution to the National service, here in Uganda it is not the same, many veterans are crying fall, I met a soldier who served in Uganda Army from Idd Amin's Regime, he looked so disappointed and miserable with the current government's failure to recognize them for their role in restoring peace in this country.
'We used to jump corps while going to work in the morning; we where not sure of meeting our families in the evening, it was because of this kind of life that we decided to take guns and fight oppression'
He revealed to me how many of his colleagues died in wars, but God protected him to breathe up to present day, however, he disclosed to me that the government has never paid them even a penny, 'May be our grand children will benefit in future but for us we have lost hope'
He claims that other East African neighbors with the help of UK government paid the veteran's families who served in the 2nd world war and wonders why Uganda Government can not follow that trend.
Trained in Israel and Russia retired officer 'Joseph' as his only given name, narrated to me how he knew the late Dr. John Garaga of Sudan, and used to help him to electrify his house in Kasanga, an outskirt of Kampala City the capital. 'I used to go to Garang's house he was my friend', the hopeless officer reveals.
With two wives Joseph wonders what the future holds for him, the current government did not stop the tax man from knocking on his door.
He pays his tax like his grand children, on this note he disclosed that he would not encourage his grand children to join the force, reason being that the leaders have disappointed him, greedy and only cares for their own stomachs, so he would not want his children to fall into the same trap.
''The work we used to do in the Army was risky, but the benefits was worthwhile, salary was good, housing and so many other benefits' reveals the soft spoken officer, he also recalls that the educated officers in Idd Amin's force used to get good salary but today nothing.
Today Joseph has resorted to farming and doing part time electrification of houses and cars in his home village, waiting for his day to meet his creator God.
The ex- service man disclosed that he can still contribute to this country like his colleagues who are also still serving after so many years.
People like Lieutenant General Mosses Ali, kakooza Mutale, Kasirye Gwanga do still serve and many other Idd Amin turned UPDF members earn tax payers sweat, the same should be done to the forgotten hellos of this country, who are languishing in the villages, and can not manage even to buy the essential commodities like salt and paraffin and have no access to hospitals and clean water.