KAMPALA – The National Social Security Fund-NSSF Board of Directors is set to launch investigations into allegations of mismanagement of funds by former Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba.
Byarugaba’s contract expired at the end of November – as was the case of his former deputy Patrick Ayota – but the former has since got a new lease.
There were claims that the Board, which Dr Peter Kimbowa leads, had endorsed Byarugaba for another five-year term in office but Minister Betty Amongi declined to approve his reappointment on allegations of misappropriation of funds.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, too, quoting a presidential directive, tried in vain to convince Amongi, who stuck to her position – attracting the attention of President Yoweri Museveni – who sources said instead backed his line minister.
Amongi is said to have produced incriminating evidence against Byarugaba – luring the President on her side to order for an investigation into the former MD’s conduct – accusing him of abuse of office and mismanagement of the entity’s investments.
Dr Kimbowa revealed in an interview that a resolution had already been passed to embark on the process of investigations, this week as part of the due diligence on the part of government.
“Following consultations with various stakeholders, the appointing authority is conducting a due diligence exercise following the recommendation of the NSSF board.
“In due course, NSSF members and the public will be informed of the outcome of the due diligence exercise, and subsequent appointment of a managing director,” he noted.
President Museveni is said to have told a meeting at State House recently that if there were any allegations concerning governance, there must be an investigation – and Amongi noted that by Thursday this week (tomorrow), investigations, expected to last two months, must have started.
She revealed that she had received dozens of petitions from individual workers and groups who were concerned about Byarugaba’s management style – and therefore opposing his reappointment.
One of the petitioners, Job Richard Matua wondered why Byarugaba was being given a new contract yet he had surpassed the retirement age of 60, arguing that there were many Ugandans who had the ability to do the job. However, his deputy – Ayota was also reappointed outside the 60 years bracket.
Amongi clarified that the Attorney General had advised how civil service laws about retirement do not apply to the NSSF MD and deputy.
Usher Wilson Owere – the embattled chairman of the National Organisation of Trade Unions – NOTU, one of the constituent members of the NSSF Board claimed that it was the Minister who should be probed over her undue interventions in the daily operations of the Fund.
He said she called the organisations to write petitions alleging corruption and other issues against Byarugaba, with the motive of failing his reappointment, especially for allegedly refusing to grant her request for Ugx6b from the Fund to run her official activities.
But Minister Amongi explained that the said activities were all in support of NSSF, particularly regarding employers’ contribution compliance and enhancing contributions. Specifically, according to her, the activities would include the holding meeting with private sector chief executives, meetings with ministries, departments and agencies of government, and four regional meetings ‘to sensitise citizens on their social security rights and obligations.’
Other planned activities are; securing at least two signed Memorandum of Understanding with MDAs to enable them to commit to enhancing their compliance and finalising the regulatory framework for mandatory and voluntary contributions. She also plans to tour industrial parks to engage with employers and employees, sensitising Ugandans on voluntary savings and conducting spot registration in industrial parks and construction sites.
“That is the purpose of the Ugx6b, fully approved by the NSSF Board,” she said, adding that was part of her mandate as the line minister.
“As a saver, the new law approved by Parliament 2022 requires me, as a Minister to increase voluntary savings and enforce registration of all workers in Uganda from all companies. We start with all industrial parks, January.”