By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

“The purpose of public pensions is not to provide Government with tax revenues (or opportunities for investment) but to ensure social security for retirees” (Munyambonyera, 2019).

In Uganda Life expectancy today is said to be 63, but the population is getting younger and younger, and is perhaps the youngest in the world with the Old Aged (60-72), the Aged (73-80), and those belonging to the group Bye Bye Age (81-91) are diminishing in population composition, with less and less of them being part of their groups and distorting the population structure of the country.

Uganda is famed for having 110 pension schemes currently registered, mostly private ones. The public ones are few and include: the Army Peñsion scheme, the National Social Security Fund, the Public Pension Scheme and the Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS).

However, most of these schemes are known for their inefficiency, and people tend to avoid them because of growing mistrust of Government by the people. They fear Government will misuse their money in investments that have nothing to do with their social and economic security; as sources of taxes; and as sources of loans to investors and other countries instead of investing in their social and economic security. This could explain the diminishing pension coverage in Uganda, which now stands at only about 5% of the country.

As Government shifts focus of pension money on its own interests, thereby distorting the purpose of pension schemes and eroding public confidence in them, the vulnerability of the old aged, the aged and the bye bye age is rising supersonically uncontrollably. They have been denied access to their money and find themselves marginalized in their own country.

Many are quietly and unnoticeably dying in their rural areas where they withdrew to. Those who decide to stay on in towns or cities may be compelled to become street dwellers or lapse into insanity, with no one to help them. These are our senior citizens that once made the economy and country move upwards.

They are increasingly vulnerable for another couple of reasons. Neglect by their former employer, they are increasingly deprived, poor and losing land through land grabbing, either by greedy and selfish individuals in Government, Army, Police, Legislature or in Private Business.

As they get displaced with no alternatives for them, they are manifesting as pollutants of their communities, adding no value to them. They have even become threatened by members of their families who are either grabbing their little land spared by bigger grabbers, or harming them, even by killing because they think they are overstaying alive. Or else in the community, they are despised or ridiculed.

They were once able to provide for themselves but now are the mercy of nature while their money is held up in pension schemes or abused by Government, orused to maintain administrators and managers of the pension schemes.

Government knows we have diminishing numbers of the the Bye Bye Age group, but that is the one it is pretending to be catering for with 25,000/- or so every other time. Some of those citizens have received nothing even after registering themselves on time.

Wayward inflation has made the cash gift useless, where a bar of soap now costs 10,000/- up from 3500/- a few months back. They cannot even use it to travel to Kampala to claim their pensions.

The majority of sufferers of no pension for long periods of time are the old aged and aged. They could significantly contribute to the economy of the country if they got their pensions in adequate quantity and, with advice from experts, invested it wisely in their own and family social and economic advancement.

As things are now, it is as if the choice of Government is to keep them in poverty and vulnerability long enough so that they continue to die off earlier than they would otherwise do. This is bad for the country.

The young still need the ingenuity and guidance of the old aged, aged and the bye bye aged. In countries like Japan, these are the ones contributing to the productivity of the national economies.

Pensioners dying prematurely, and in mass numbers, while their money is held up in pension schemes or illegally invested in firms or in loans to firms and countries, or dispatched to them in small unnegotiated percentages, over unnegotiated periods of time, arbitrarily determined, is aggregately a violation of the right of our senior citizens to their pensions in a timely manner. The senior citizens are suffering psychological torture are now losing their self-esteem. The combined effect of this status quo is of course early death.

The approach of small unnegotiated percentages over unnegotiated periods is what Government has chosen to use in paying the In House pension of retired academic and administrative staff of Makerere University through the Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS).

The approach harms the long-term retirees most of whom are now in the group of the Aged. They are nearing the end of their time on Earth but have to suffer the consequences of postponed enjoyment of their pensions, including early death. The purpose of the scheme is defeated: that of social and economic security for the retirees. Instead it has become an avenue for hidden or concealed genocide.

The aged and old aged have no money to buy food or ensure quality health for themselves. They cannot invest in the education of their late children or grandchildren. So with rising socio-psycho torture, the deplorable alternative is imposed death through denial of their social and economic security, which their pension would assure them of if willingly given to them. But alas!

There are those who will say hidden or concealed genocide is an overstatement. Their interpretation of genocide arises from the traditional definition of the vice as “The deliberate killing.

They still think genocide is only achieved through the use of guns and other weapons, like did happen in Luwero Triangle and Northern Uganda during the wars of NRM/A under the command of Tibuhaburwa Museveni, or now in Ukraine, carried out by Russian military under the command of Vladimir Putin.

And so they use many synonyms of genocide to underlie what they mean by genocide: ethnic cleansing, decimation, butchery, eradication, elimination, extermination, liquidation annihilation, mass homicide, mass destruction, mass slaughter, indiscriminate killing, wholesale killing and massacre.

For the purposes of this article, I will adopt the synonym elimination to refer to the kind of genocide taking place in the Uganda Pension Scheme among the group s of the old aged , aged and bye bye age groups of pensioners through denial of access to their pensions in a timely manner.

So if the late NRM/A ideologue, Kajabagu Karusoke, referred to some Ugandans as biological substances the way our senior citizens are being denied their pensions in a timely manner, there y stressing them to death almost simultaneously, is reducing them to biological substances, a level which is even subhuman.

On the whole genocide expresses lack of love for humanity by those who reduce our people to biological substances by withholding pension to them, or giving it to them irregularly and unilaterally without negotiating with the beneficiaries how they would like to be paid their pension and, instead diverting the pension to using it to generate taxes, investing it in projects, which more often than not have a high rate of failure, and loaning it to firms and countries with total absence of concern for the social and economic security of the retirees and the members of their families they support, or are supposed to support, through home-based income generating initiative s using their pensions.

Munyambonyera (2019) was right when he wrote that the purpose of public pension is not to provide Government with tax revenues or even to earn interest on investment and loans for it) but to ensure social (and economic) security for the retirees).

If Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) is to be relevant to retirees rather than to Government, it’s supervisory role should be geared more to wards ensuring that pension schemes deliver social goods to retirees in terms of larges number of them getting their pensions rather than trekking to Kampala City for pensions, which they never get for years as Government cheats the retirees of their savings to satisfy it’s interest of maximizing profits from money of its victims: the retirees.

That is dishonesty and corruption of the pension system on the part of Government. Senior citizens will be right to lose trust and confidence in Government incrementally. This will create, and is already creating, a negative attitude in potential pensioners who are not Government employees, and decelerate the rate of growth of the the pension sector or pension coverage in the country.

For God and My Country

The Writer is a Ugandan Scientist And Environmentalist

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