NSSF Probe: Select Committee Grills Board Over Funding of Private Union Activities
The select committee investigating the affairs of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has questioned the board about the Shillings 1 billion request made by one of its members without a clear legal framework.
The select committee chaired by Mbarara South MP, Mwine Mpaka is in possession of a letter written by Dr. Sam Lyomoki, the Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU), requesting Shillings 1 billion, out of which he received Shillings 100 million 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 17 trillion Shillings 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 Shillings 1 billion request by Lyomoki, the select committee earlier learned 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 is released and how the Board handles conflict of interest considering that some of its members are representatives from workers’ unions.
In his response, Kimbowa said that for every board session, the Fund records conflict of interest and that it is 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 Shillings 1 billion from the Managing Director of NSSF but the money was never released.
However, MP Mpaka said that documents before the committee indicate that the fund released Shillings 100 million out of the Shillings 1 billion requested. But Kimbowa insisted that he was not aware of this development, which prompted Mpaka to question whether there is a possibility for someone to get NSSF money 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 is a budget for NSSF partnership to collaborate with partners that can bring in more savers. She said that Unions are 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 was discussed by the Board.
Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba, the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) representative said that their involvement is 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 is under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Peter Kimbowa, the NSSF Board Chairperson later confirmed that they had experienced issues of misconduct among the members. He said that the issue involved Dr. Sam Lyomoki, the Secretary General of the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) who threatened another board member Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba, the representative of the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU).
Kimbowa said that the notice received by the Board indicated that Lyomoki had threatened Mudiba with abduction and torture.
In his submission, Mudiba said that the threats happened outside the Boardroom and that he reported the issue to the police, and the investigations were conducted. He said that the threats were in regard to their work in the unions and that the issue has been resolved.
Lyomoki did not appear together with other board members before the select committee and it was reported that he had traveled. 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 is the only member who has a challenge of mutual respect and support for others.
The Committee directed the NSSF Corporation Secretary, Agnes Tibayeita Isharaza 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.