Uganda: President Promises Pay Raise for Civil Servants

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.
9 September 2019

President Museveni has promised better pay for public servants and said the first beneficiaries of the intended salary raise will be teachers, doctors, police and soldiers.

The President made the remarks while addressing 4,000 primary teachers, who met for the second National Primary Teachers' Day at St Lawrence College in Maya, Wakiso District, last Friday.

"I am going to write circular to all of you explaining the steps we are taking to improve your remunerations further and I will give each one of you my signed copy," he said in response to the remuneration improvement.

He added: "The public servants in Uganda, starting with teachers, medical workers, police and soldiers, we will make sure that all of you in the end get good salary."

The President did not provide timeline on when he would fulfil the salaries improvement pledge.

The public service is polarised by wide pay disparity among employees with similar qualification and experience, but serving in different ministries, departments and agencies.

Experts have tasked the government to cure the anomaly by establishing a Salary Review Commission to regularise remuneration for all public servants, a proposal that has remained wet in the wings.

Whereas the Public Service ministry is principally responsible for determining public servants' pay based on resources in the national coffers, employees in different sectors have over the years extracted salary increase either through industrial action or under the table bargain directly with the President.

From university lecturers to doctors and teachers, their strikes over low pay had ended in meetings and deal with the President, aggravating the distortion in salary.

Delays in implementing commitments struck through such arrangements have resulted in repeat industrial action, particularly by teachers and lectures, to the disadvantage of students and agony of parents and guardians.

About 4,000 of those teachers, many having participated in the strikes under the aegis of the Uganda National Teachers' Union (Unatu), came face-to-face with Mr Museveni and the President blew hot and cold on them over what he termed as their disruptive behaviour and actions.

"When I look at the congregation (teachers), all of you look young and I'm sure you will all benefit from the remunerations when the right time comes," he said, attributing delayed action to the number of teachers on government payroll increasing from 85,000 to 130,000 over the past two decades.

The plan to improve remuneration for civil servants will never be at the expense of security and infrastructure of the country, he said.

The President, accompanied by his wife Janet, who doubles as the Education minister, warned non-teaching staff to desist from demanding for salary increment whenever pay for teachers is increased, saying such protests disrupt government plans, hold educational institutions and country hostage and disadvantage students.

"When I directed [that] professors at public universities earn up to Shs15m, the sweeper also asked for [salary] increment just because they sweep near the professor. Does sweeping near a professor make you a professor? This must stop," he said.

At the same function, the President blasted the teachers who are not doing their job of teaching well and asked them to resign.

He said before Uganda attained Independence, the teachers were not highly educated and were lowly paid, but they taught Ugandan children very well who have now turned into top bureaucrats.

The teachers of yesteryears, he said, were devoted and he asked the current generation to emulate them to regain respect for teachers and restore glory to the education system.

"If you think that you are cheating the government and parents by not doing your job well, then you are wrong. Because God in heaven is watching you. If you know you are tempted by other things apart from your role of teaching our children, then you can turn in your resignation to the Ministry of Education," he added.

Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry permanent secretary, said whereas other public servants have had their salaries increased to about 24 per cent, the teachers should be grateful because theirs has been raised to 42 per cent.

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