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9,000 ex-EAC staff die before receiving benefits

30th May 2012
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Over 9,000 retirees of the former East African Community (EAC) from Tanzania reportedly died before receiving full payment of their terminal benefits. The former EAC collapsed 35 years ago.

Ahmed Kabunga Chairman of the former EAC employees made the statement in Dar es Salaam yesterday when briefing journalists on the retirees’ decision to bury their differences and groups to form one team that will help them to jointly push for payment of their dues.

He said so far a total of 9,677 ex-EAC retirees out of 28,831 have died while still pursuing their terminal benefits. He said the retirees have been pushing the government to pay them for almost 35 years to no avail.

“It is high time the government settled our terminal benefits. We have been more than tolerant even when our colleagues were harassed by police officers,” said ex-EAC retirees’ chair.

He said the presence of different retirees’ groups frustrated their efforts, as each worked in isolation. He said they were making efforts to bring together leaders from each group to form one team.

Kabunga called on each group of the retirees to send their representatives to a national conference to be held in the near future. He also urged them to fully collaborate with legal experts to ensure that their rights are protected.

He applauded the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) for their assistance and advice. Kabunga said the Centre has been supporting them over the years.

In 2010, the High Court of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam ruled that former EAC retirees should be paid 117bn/- in retirement benefits instead of the 2tn/- they demanded.

They, however, thronged the court, complained against the ruling, arguing that the money meant for their compensation was more than 400.4bn/- and not 117bn/-. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) audit report for 2008/09 showed that the process of paying retirees in this country was murky.

The problems encountered during the audit of terminal benefits included using wrong salaries as basis for calculating terminal benefits, combining pensionable terms and contract terms, conflicting resolutions by some civil servants which contravened pension laws.

The process towards the settlement of retirees’ terminal benefits started during President Benjamin Mkapa’s administration, which then vowed to ensure that all the ex-EAC employees were fully paid their terminal benefits by the end of his term in 2005.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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