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Retirees: Pay Us Now Or Else 

 

By Consesa John and Kimani Kim, The Citizen

 

October 27, 2008

 

Tanzania

 

Retired civil servants yesterday gave a one- week ultimatum to the Ministry of Finance to pay them arrears for 12 months or face an undisclosed action. 

They asked the Government to hold talks with them over the pending payments during the seven-day ultimatum. 

Addressing a press conference yesterday, the chairman of the retirees committee, Mr Assed Mayugi, said they were ready to accept a negotiated payment mode for their pensions. 

"We are ready at any time to have a discussion with the ministry on our payment, but it should be within seven days from today. Otherwise we will meet and decide on what steps to take," said Mr Mayugi. 

The retirees also want the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr Mustafa Mkulo, and his team to apologise for allegedly dodging them and calling the police to disperse them when they met last week to demand for the payment. 

According to Mr Mayugi, the retirees have not been paid their pension from July to December 2007 and from January to June 2008, which in total amounts to about Sh30 million. 

Meanwhile, over 200 retirees of the defunct East Africa Community who are stranded in Dar es Salaam, are pleading for food donation to enable them survive as they await payment of their retirement dues. Some have set up camp at the Tanzania Railways Limited grounds. 

The retirees come from Tanga, Dodoma, Iringa, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Mbeya and Rukwa. They said they had been living in difficult conditions as they had no one to support them. 

They told reporters that they were summoned to the TRL headquarters to table documents to support their demands but it has taken long to end their predicament. 

"Booking offices are our sleeping rooms and the food we eat is bought by the money we get from selling plastic bottles. But considering our ages we are not going to live for long," one old man told this reporter. 

Another one, Mr Mohamed Athumani from Tanga, said he had camped at the Dar es Salaam railway station since 2005, but nothing was forthcoming on his case. 

"They have already privatized the railway company. Why doesn't the Government pay us our benefits," wondered Mr Athumani. 

According to the retirees chairman, Mr Nathaniel Mlaki,, they blame the Government for their predicament. He accused it of reneging on promises to hasten their payments. 

"Last week I received a call from the assistant minister of Finance, Mr Jeremiah Sumari, who said the responsible Government leaders would meet and arrange to pay. But up to now it appears they are only playing tricks on us. 

"We will even go ahead and sue the Government at the human rights commission for denying us our rights at the right time," declared Mlaki. 

Efforts to reach Treasury officials for an answer yesterday were futile. 


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