UPDF soldiers keeping peace in Somalia have not been paid for six months, The Observer has learnt.
Frustrated, the soldiers have asked Parliament to intervene. Each soldier draws a gross salary of $1,028 (Shs 2.6m) which translates into a net pay of $828 (Shs 2.15m). Kigulu South MP Milton Muwuma told us on Monday that several soldiers had telephoned him and raised similar concerns.
"After registering several concerns from our soldiers in Somalia, this is an issue that the UPDF and ministry of Defence officials will have to explain when they appear before the committee [on Defence and Internal Affairs] on Thursday," Muwuma said.
Ministry of Defence officials are scheduled to meet the committee to defend their 2014/15 budget. The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, said on Tuesday that the delay in payments was not UPDF's fault.
"Payment of that money is not handled by the UPDF, it is not in our budget, we are only conduits of the money," Katumba said.
The money, Katumba added, is not paid to soldiers as salary but as allowances.
"Amisom is not a Ugandan mission, it is managed by the AU [African Union] and if they have not given us the money, we will not pass it on to our forces," he said.
"AU gets the money from the European Union and before EU releases it, AU will not get it, and we [UPDF] will as well not get it to pay them," Katumba explained.
Uganda has the biggest contingent of soldiers serving under the UN- funded Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) numbering at least 6,000 soldiers and 200 police personnel. Other countries with troops in Somalia are Burundi (5,435), Ethiopia (4,395), Kenya (3,664), Djibouti (960) and Sierra Leone (850).