Select Committee Questions Workers’ Unions Over NSSF Funds

Parliament’s select committee investigating activities of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has queried two workers’ unions for reportedly receiving money to finance private activities away from the Fund.

This was during the Tuesday meeting when the select committee interfaced with leaders from the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU). The two organisations are represented on the NSSF board by four members.

The select committee chaired by Mbarara South Member of Parliament, Mwine Mpaka was named last week to examine corporate governance structures at NSSF, examine circumstances surrounding the appointment of the Managing Director, evaluate the status and safety of savers’ money, examine the extent of stakeholder engagement in decision making and inquire into any other matters incidental thereto. 

Mpaka questioned the Union leaders whether they had ever used the Fund’s money to run private activities and to also explain the legal framework under which they receive funds.

He cited a letter from Dr. Sam Lyomoki, the COFTU Secretary General written to the NSSF Managing Director requesting for 600 million Shillings from the Fund.

In response, Patrick Bigirwa the NOTU Acting Secretary General said that he was new in office but he had heard from the outgoing Secretary General that the Union has got some funding from NSSF.

Musa Okello, the Union Acting Chairman General weighed in saying that they have a Cooperation Agreement with NSSF under which the Fund makes an input in an event when it is to make an appearance.

Okello later revealed to the select committee that in the last five years, NOTU has not  written a request to NSSF for money but he had learnt of a recent 80 million Shillings sent to the Union for sensitization of workers on financial literacy.

 MP Mpaka questioned the NOTU Acting Treasurer General, Moses Mauku whether he is not aware of the money sent to the Union without any request.

“Mr. Chair, I can only submit after looking into the records because the process for handover is underway and we are going to receive these reports next week. So if I give you information now about figures we shall end up lying to parliament which we don’t want to do. But we promise, we shall get this information once given time,” said Mauku.

The Committee gave NOTU officials one day to present minutes of all their meetings, constitution, legal framework under which the Union receives money from NSSF, a chart of all bank accounts and other documents.

Earlier, the select committee received a submission from a whistleblower, Job Richard Matuwa who reported that the Fund was misusing money for savers on private activities of Unions.

Matuwa reported that COFTU’s Dr. Sam Lyomoki and Penina Tukamwesigwa were never nominated by their Union to be representatives on the NSSF board but rather nominated themselves and later appointed by the Minister of Gender. This report was further amplified by Robert Keno, the COFTU Board member saying that the two members illegally nominated themselves to serve on the NSSF board.  

Matuwa further asked the select committee to interest itself in the failure by NSSF to collect contributions from different companies saying that there could be connivance.

“200 billion Shillings deducted by companies from employees is not remitted to the Fund,” said Matuwa. “It is important for this committee to lay its net wider. Members are also facing difficulty to access their savings. Currently, NSSF is not serving the interest of savers, this committee should inquire deeply, in whose interest are Ugandans saving?  Why can’t NSSF build houses of 80 million which can be bought by ordinary Ugandans?” 

He also asked the committee to pick interest in a petition by the NSSF procurement department regarding allegations of corruption by former Managing Director Richard Byarugaba in various projects.

However, Mpaka asked Matuwa to get all information regarding his allegations and present evidence in two days time. 

The NSSF probe follows corruption allegations at the Fund stemming from the Minister of Gender, Betty Amongi letter questioning the reappointment of the former Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba when his contract expired at the end of November 2022.

The NSSF Board led by Dr. Peter Kimbowa endorsed Byarugaba’s reappointment for another five-year term. As a result, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja asked Amongi to proceed with the appointment “as recommended by the Board to avoid any managerial gaps, which can put the workers’ funds at risk”.

Amongi protested the move and instead called for an investigation into the conduct of the former MD while at the fund. She accused him of among others abuse of office and mismanagement of investments. She directed that investigations be conducted within two months in line with a resolution by the Board of directors.

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