KAMPALA – The Select Committee investigating the affairs of the National Social Security Fund –NSSF has questioned the board about the Ugx1b, which one of its members demanded for without a clear legal framework.
The select committee, Mbarara South MP, Mwine Mpaka chairs – is in possession of a letter, Dr Sam Lyomoki – the Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions –COFTU wrote – requesting Ugx1b – out of which he received Ugx100m in the current financial year 2022/2023.
Lyomoki is one of the four workers union representatives on the NSSF Board, which has ten members.
The NSSF Fund currently worth over Ugx17trn is mandated by the government through the NSSF Act to provide social security to employees in the private sector. The Fund is supervised by both – the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.
Besides the Ugx1b Lyomoki request – the select committee learnt that NSSF has been availing money to workers’ unions for their private activities under an agreement.
On Wednesday, Mpaka tasked the NSSF Board members led by its chairperson Peter Kimbowa to explain the legal framework, under which the money in question was being released and how the Board handles conflict of interest considering that some of its members were representatives from workers’ unions.
In his response, Kimbowa said that for every board session, the Fund records conflict of interest and that it was a statement board members must take before any business is handled. He further told the committee that he was out of the country when Lyomoki applied for the Ugx1b from the Managing Director of NSSF but the money was never released.
However, MP Mpaka said that documents before the committee indicated how the fund had released Ugx100m out of the Ugx1b.
But Kimbowa insisted that he was not aware of this development – prompting Mpaka to question whether there was a possibility for someone to get money from NSSF without the knowledge of the Board.
Eng. Silver Mugisha – the NSSF Board Finance Committee Chairperson said that the board is a policy organ and does not handle how money moves.
Peninnah Tukamwesiga – the COFTU representative on the Board said that there was a budget for NSSF partnership to collaborate with associates that can bring in more savers. She said that Unions were one of the NSSF partners who are looked at to ensure that more savers register with NSSF.
Tukamwesiga said that under this arrangement, money is provided to the Unions to carry out financial literacy programs. She, however, did not divulge the amount of money released by NSSF, saying that she was not the Union Treasurer General.
Tukamwesiga said that this money budgeted for stakeholders and partnerships were discussed by the Board.
Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba – the National Organization of Trade Unions -NOTU representative said that their involvement was to ensure compliance by employers.
Mpaka questioned the NSSF Corporation Secretary, Agnes Tibayeita Isharaza about the law used by the Fund to spend savers’ money on private activities.
Isharaza said that the arrangement with Unions was under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Kimbowa later confirmed that they had experienced misconduct amongst the board members – revealing that Dr Lyomoki threatened Lwabayi Mudiba with abduction and torture if the said Ugx1b wasn’t released.
In his submission, Mudiba confirmed the threats but added that the incident happened outside the NSSF boardroom – reporting the same issue to the police.
Lyomoki did not appear together with other board members before the select committee and it was reported that he had travelled to unknown place.
Mpaka said that the select committee’s interest in the threats was to ascertain whether the NSSF board was experiencing internal wrangles. Kimbowa said that Lyomoki was the only member who had a challenge of mutual respect and support for others.
The Committee directed Tibayeita Isharaza – the board secretary to avail copies of the two letters written to the Minister regarding Lyomoki. Mpaka also directed that recordings of all board meetings are submitted to the select committee.