Mozambique: Continued Problems With Military Pensions ‘Make No Sense’

Maputo – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said on Monday that it makes no sense for the government to continue registering veterans from the national liberation struggle for military pensions 40 years after Mozambican independence.

He was speaking in Maputo at a meeting with the top leadership of the Ministry for Veterans’ Affairs who presented a report on the Consultative Council of the Ministry held last week.

Data presented by the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, Eusebio Lambo, showed that 189,687 people are registered as veterans. Of these an extraordinarily large number – 95,743 – claim to be veterans of the national liberation war waged by the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) between 1964 and 1974.

The remaining 93,944 veterans fought in the war of destabilization, between 1977 and 1992. This figure includes both those who fought in the government army, the FAM/FPLM, and those who fought in the ranks of the Renamo rebels.

Despite the length of time that has passed, pensions are still being fixed. Lambo said that pensions have been regularized for 33,747 veterans. Of these, 19,773 are veterans of the national liberation struggle, and 13,974 are veterans of the later war. The latter are euphemistically referred to as “fighters for the defence of sovereignty and of democracy” – this clumsy formulation is because, for the government, the war was one to defend Mozambican sovereignty against aggression by the white supremacist regimes of Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, while Renamo claims its campaign was in order to establish democracy.

In addition, the Ministry has processed 19,248 requests for the participation bonus due to veterans of the national liberation struggle, and 11,557 requests for the social reinsertion bonus for those who fought in the war of destabilization. Lambo added that a further 9,147 cases are pending.

Nyusi believed that exhaustive work was needed to establish the true number of veterans. “It doesn’t make much sense, 40 years after independence, that we are still registering veterans’ pensions”, he said.

The Ministry, he added, should be solving the problems of veterans, noting that “in the provinces there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the veterans’ situation”.

The Ministry’s provincial directors argued that they lacked means of transport to reach the remote areas where some veterans live. They presented this as the main difficulty facing the sector.

Nyusi, however, assured them that this question is being dealt with.

He called for respect for the veterans. When a veteran presents a problem, the Ministry staff instead of saying “that’s not how it’s done”, should explain procedures properly, “because the veteran is not obliged to know everything that we know. The veteran is someone who yesterday, without pre-conditions, and with a high sense of patriotism took part in the liberation struggle. He is someone who yesterday defended the sovereignty of this country. So he should not be inconvenienced. If he has a concern, he must be listened to, and be told how he should proceed”.

“We have to control our financial situation, focusing on fixing the pensions”, said Nyusi. “This means that colleagues handling the finances must speed up the fixing of these pensions, because this is not a favour that they’re doing for anyone”.

As for the recently established Peace and National Reconciliation Fund (FPRN), Lambo said this had so far financed 913 projects submitted by veterans. A further 193 projects had been financed through banks. The total funding granted to these projects was over 122.5 million meticais (about 2.5 million US dollars, at current exchange rates).

Lambo said that between November 2015 and 10 March this year, the beneficiaries had repaid over two million meticais. The projects financed had created 1.742 jobs.

Nyusi stressed that the funds provided from the FPRN are loans and the money must be returned. He did not want to see a repeat of the District Development Fund (FDD), set up in 2006 to lend money to people in the districts who present viable projects that could increase food production and create jobs. The experience to date has been that only a small percentage of the money lent through the FDD has ever been repaid.

“We would not like to make the same mistake, in which the money is not reimbursed”, Nyusi told the Ministry’s top managers. “I would like you to handle the Fund in a viable manner so that it can benefit more people. This means selecting sustainable projects proposed by serious people, so that when the money is provided, it is not interpreted as a grant”.

The government also plans, in the near future, to launch a project to build 15,000 houses for veterans. Each of these houses is valued at 469,800 meticais, and the beneficiaries will have a period of 15 years to repay this sum, at the rate of 2,610 meticais a month.

Nyusi insisted that those who benefit from these houses must be capable of making these monthly payments.

Source: All Africa