By John V Sserwaniko
UN Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango has justified a joint benchmarking visit to Angola where her delegation travelled with that of Uganda’s Ministry of Defense & Veteran Affairs (MODVA) that was led by State Minister Bright Rwamirama.
The five day trip began on 25th and ended on 29th June. Herself an African from Equatorial Guinea, Malango says it’s important for African countries to learn from each other especially in areas of similar history and experiences.
As it seeks to amend it’s UPDF Act (aligning it to changing times), the MODVA must benchmark on African countries that equally have large numbers of veterans and Malango says Angola is a good example.
And, because of it’s history for prolonged civil war, it’s a country that shares alot in common with Uganda which too has had growing numbers of veterans since independence.
In a joint communique she sent to Mulengera News, Malango says the UN is ready to give full support to the MODVA as it commences the thinking process leading up to the much-awaited amendment to the UPDF Act that was first enacted in 2005.
Malango with another delegation member during the Angolan benchmarking visit
Malango and Rwamirama during the Angolan visit
Malango and Rwamirama visiting a war museum in Angola
Rwamirama inside one of the war museum halls
The joint communique Malango signed with Rwamirama enumerates the areas to be addressed in the amendment to include those aimed at addressing management of veteran affairs, military pensions management, administration of military courts, rehabilitation, reintegration and psycho-social support to military veterans.
Other areas to be streamlined through the amendment include innovative integration of the military into the development interventions and mainstreaming gender issues in the military.
Malango says some of the ideals Uganda seeks to achieve through this amendment (largely aimed at addressing inclusiveness-related inadequacies) are things on which countries like Angola have good experiences and practices to share that can enrich the enactment of the Ugandan amendments.
Rwamirama compliments this observation by saying Angola had to be one of the several jurisdictions to benchmark upon as Uganda seeks to have in place a more inclusive legislation governing management of military relations.
Malango, who is also the UNDP Resident Representative for Uganda, says UN is prepared to render full support to the amendment-related benchmarking trips among African countries because that’s consistent with the ideals embedded in the South South Cooperation framework and Pan-Africanism which President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement professes.
“As the United Nations, we believe that our role is to help countries identify the best possible options to implement their national visions for inclusive development and sustainable peace. The South South Cooperation framework provides us with a pathway for Uganda to exchange and gain knowledge from other Member States like Angola who have undergone similar experiences,” said Malango whose President Teodore Nguema Obiang back home is a blossom buddy of President Museveni.
Under Malango’s coordination, the UN agencies in Kampala see any program or initiatives aimed at deepening inclusive development (while diminishing exclusion) as being consistent with realization of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals as proclaimed by the world body itself.
Malango says the UN will be ready to support every initiative aimed at accelerating the realization of the ideals proclaimed in SDGs and the inclusiveness-driven revision to the UPDF Act is one such opportunity.
The MODVA-sponsored amendment and other inclusion programs will be supported under United Nations Integrated Support to the institution of Defense and Veteran Affairs.
Malango explains that desire to enhance gender equality and women empowerment within the UPDF structures and combatants’ families prompted the UN to come up with this intergrated support approach.
Rwamirama and Malango during one of the many meetings they attended in Angola
The Angolan officials address members of the joint UN-MODVA delegation
This in the end must lead UPDF combatants, veterans, their spouses and other dependants to lead better lives through increased access to socio-economic opportunities and livelihood initiatives.
The UN partnership is also aimed at enhancing institutional capacity for the UPDF to equitably manage veterans welfare-related matters like compensation, rehabilitation, ressettlement, reintegration and timely payment of terminal benefits.
The resultant integrated approach will result into the Ugandan state affordably taking care of the veterans and their families during their post-service life.
In amending the UPDF Act, the MODVA also seeks to streamline military courts, a reform the UN supports too.
Rwamirama says as the amendment process progresses, they will be relying on the UN partnership to reach out and learn from many other African countries whose political evolution was similarly preceded with prolonged periods of political turbulence and civil war.
And Angola is just one of the many on which the Ugandan authorities will be benchmarking and learning good practices from.
Referencing on Angola, Rwamirama said: “The legal framework that governs military veterans in Angola, compensation for disability, pension management, ressettlement, rehabilitation for disabled and post-retirement benefits will help Uganda in the process of amending the UPDF Act.”
He said MODVA looks forward to also sign memorandas of cooperation with other sister countries in areas of military personnel training, defense industries, research and development.
Stressing the importance of inclusiveness as Uganda pursues it’s development agenda, Malango said the benchmarking visits to countries like Angola “will enhance the capacities within the Ministry (MODVA) and the national army to respond to the social needs of families, women combatants, veterans, UN peace keepers and reserve forces informed by Pan African values and shared global commitments to peace and development.”