Activist Rwakakamba petitions court over NSSF Act

Sunday July 12 2020
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Mr Morrison Rwakakamba

Human Rights activist Morrison Rwakakamba has asked the Constitutional Court to declare sections of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Act unconstitutional, saying they violate workers’ right and interest on their savings.

“…Section 30 of the NSSF Act Cap 222 that does not make provision for members’ perpetual and non-extinguishable interest and members’ account as property capable of being dealt in by the members or inherited by the beneficiaries of the estate of the member in case of death is inconsistent with and in contravention of Objective IX, X, XIV(a) and (b), XXVI of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, Articles 2, 8A, 20, 26, 287 of the Constitution,” reads the petition.

In the amended constitutional petition filed on July 8, against the Attorney General and NSSF, Mr Rwakakamba alleges that Section 30 of the NSSF Act, which gives powers to the minister and the Board to invest money in the Fund without deeper involvement of the members and absence of checks and balances is inconsistent and in contravention of the State Policy, and the Constitution.

Through his lawyers, Mr Rwakakamba, jointly with his Agency for Transformation, alleges that Section 3 of the NSSF Act that gives the minister all powers in exclusion of the members’ participation by majority vote to appoint or consent to the appointment of all members of NSSF board contravenes the Constitution.

He alleges that Sections 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the NSSF Act in providing benefits for only five descriptions, excluding emergencies caused by natural calamities or global pandemics such as Covid-19, is restrictive and denies majority of the Fund beneficiaries their right to livelihood, hence inconsistent with and in contravention of the State Policy and the Constitution.

“That the second respondent (NSSF) establishes a workers’ bank to cater for mechanism to do profitable business that shall provide subsidized financing for members’ businesses and mortgages or any other self-reliance initiatives. That NSSF has fallen short on this; are in contravention and inconsistent with the Constitution,” the petition reads.

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Orders sought
Mr Rwakakamba is now seeking court orders restraining NSSF and all its agents and workers from depriving the beneficiaries’ access to their money midterm.

“The plaintiff is seeking order declaring that the contributing members of the second respondent (NSSF) have perpetual and non-extinguishable interests in the Fund’s investments and are, thus, entitled to return on investment even after a member has received their statutory lump sum.”

Mr Rwakakamba is also seeking an order compelling NSSF to act in a manner that guarantees members’ rights within two weeks.

He is further seeking an order directing NSSF to pay out 20 per cent to cushion and propel members out of the economic distress occasioned by the current Covid-19 pandemic or any other instances of a pandemic or crisis by whatever name called.

Mr Rwakakamba also wants court to declare that a member’s account with NSSF is property capable of being inherited by the beneficiaries of the estate of the members in case of death.

Earlier on, Mr Rwakakamba sought courts orders to, among others, compel the NSSF to pay out each of its members at least 20 per cent of their savings to mitigate the pressures brought about by Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 effect
He stated that the Covid-19 pandemic forced President Museveni to issue various directives that made many NSSF members to close their operations, resulting in loss of money.

The petition against the NSSF and the Attorney General comes after numerous calls to the Fund to pay its members at least 20 per cent of their savings to cushion themselves against the economic hardships brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Likewise, there is an amendment Bill before Parliament that if passed, will among others, see members of the NSSF access their savings mid-term. The MPs are yet to vote on it.

The petition

The demands
That the second respondent (NSSF) establishes a workers’ bank to cater for mechanism to do profitable business that shall provide subsidised financing for members’ businesses and mortgages or any other self-reliance initiatives. That NSSF has fallen short on this; are in contravention and inconsistent with the Constitution.

ekasozi@ug.nationmedia.com

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