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An 80-year-old former employee of the East African Community (EAC) Lawrence Lule Tindamanyire has appealed to the government to pay him his full pension as he battles illness and financial difficulties.

Tindamanyire, a resident of Karama village, Bunono parish, Nyarushanje sub-county in Rukungiri district, began his career with the EAC on July 10, 1967, serving as a secretary in Uganda after completing his ordinary level (senior four) education.   

He was later sponsored to pursue an advanced course in secretarial work at the commission's registrar's office in Arusha, Tanzania, due to his dedication and diligent work. However, in 1977, the EAC faced dissolution, bringing an abrupt end to its era of regional collaboration. Tindamanyire and his fellow former employees were given two options; seek positions within their home governments or gracefully exit public service. 

For Tindamanyire, his decision was influenced by the challenging war situation in Uganda under President Idi Amin Dada and his deteriorating health. With a heavy heart, he chose retirement, leaving behind an organization to which he had dedicated many years of service.

Tindamanyire and his fellow affected workers sued the government of Uganda in 1996 after their efforts to demand pension benefits reached an impasse. In November 2000, an out-of-court settlement was reached between the government and former EAC employees. The settlement agreement stipulated that the government would pay retirement benefits, totaling at least Shs 45 billion, to the group whose contracts had been abruptly terminated in 1977. 

As per the agreement, workers were entitled to receive pension arrears from July 1, 1977, to the date of payment, as well as monthly pensions in accordance with the Pension Act of the EAC Cap 11 and the Pensions Act 281, as amended by decree 6/1978.    

After the initial agreement, Tindamanyire received Shs 8 million as pension arrears in two installments that concluded in 2001. He was promised more but was not informed of the exact balance for the next phase. Since then, he has not received any further monthly pension payments.

Tindamanyire now resides at his son's home after his house collapsed during heavy rainfall a year ago. He appeals to the government to consider paying him so that he can live a decent life in his old age and cover his health bills and basic needs. 

Emmanuel Byamukama and Paul Ahimbisibwe, Tindamanyire's children, express their frustration and sadness, witnessing their father's struggles, especially given his years of dedicated service to a respected commission, an organization that had seemingly promised a comfortable retirement.  

Silver Baguma, the chairperson for pensioners in the Kigezi sub-region, is aware of Tindamanyire's plight and emphasizes that he is now disabled due to spinal cord complications and requires support to walk.

Rebecca Kadaga, the first deputy prime minister and minister for East African Affairs, acknowledges the challenge of paying the affected pensioners, which the ministry inherited from the ministry of Public Service. She states that the ministry has been tracing the pensioners to ensure their matter is resolved. Among the 482 claimants, 156 remain untraced, and efforts are underway to locate them and arrange for their payment. - URN/The Observer

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