What you need to know:
- The former chief finance officer says his priority is to continue growing the Fund, make it relevant to savers by broadening services, and impact Uganda’s development from top to grassroots.
Mr Patrick Ayota has been named the acting National Social Security Fund (NSSF) managing director and substantive deputy for the next five years after the contract of Mr Richard Byarugaba ran out yesterday.
A decision on appointment of the Fund’s chief executive, which was expected before the lapse of Mr Byarugaba’s contract, is pending “further consultations”, said Gender and Labour minister Betty Amongi, the appointing authority.
“I received [the] board’s proposals (Wednesday) evening. On MD, further consultations with key stakeholders are ongoing and we hope to conclude soon,” she told this newspaper in a WhatsApp message.
Mr Byarugaba, a professional accountant and Master in Business Administration degree holder from the United Kingdom, was unavailable for comment yesterday. He was named the Fund’s boss on August 1, 2010 and under him, NSSF’s asset base grew from Shs8 trillion to Shs17 trillion today.
Highly-placed sources briefed on the matter said different government officials, as well as Board members, were conflicted on who to name as substantive MD due to intense lobbying by different quarters for different potential appointees, both internally and outside the Fund.
Under the revised NSSF Act, both the managing director and deputy of the workers’ provident Fund are appointed by the minister, in this case Ms Amongi, and on the recommendation by the Board currently chaired by Mr Peter Kimbowa.
Last week, Mr Byarugaba, who superintended the Fund for 12 years, looked poised for reappointment for another five-year term, but authorities went mute following a November 24 Board meeting until NSSF issued a statement on its top leadership changes yesterday.
“In accordance with Section 39 and 40 of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Act (CAP 222), as amended, the Board of Directors submitted its recommendations to the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development for the appointment of a managing director and deputy managing director,” the statement signed on behalf of the board chair by Mr Patrick Ocailap, the Finance ministry deputy permanent secretary, reads in part.
It added: “This is to inform NSSF members, shareholders and the public as follows; Patrick Ayota has been appointed deputy managing director for a five-year period with effect from November 30, 2022. The processes leading to the appointment of a managing director have taken longer. In the interim, the deputy managing director will care-take this office until these processes are concluded.”
Mr Ocailap, quoting the Board on which he sits, noted that the “Fund remains stable, and its operations are running normally”.
Asked last night about his additional top-tier designation and plans, Mr Ayota said: “The reappointment is an honour which comes with a lot of responsibility I take seriously.”
“What we plan to do during the period of care-taking is to continue on the trajectory of the Fund; advancing the services, savings and trust with members and being relevant to members and impact development of our country from top to the grassroots,” he said by telephone.
The amendment of the NSSF Act, this year, split the political supervision of the Fund between Finance ministry, which handles investment and financial matters, and Gender and Labour ministry, responsible for labour-related issues and appointment of the honchos.
The path to the latest decisions by the Board on the Fund’s top management was mined with disagreements, with minister Amongi, in a July 22 letter, asking Mr Byarugaba, who had clocked 60, to leave office, pending a determination of his suitability for reappointment.
“This [continued stay in office] is dangerous for the operations of the Fund,” Ms Amongi wrote, “and I cannot continue to put the Fund at risk without addressing the matter”.
Citing the Public Service Standing Order and NSSF Human Resource Policy, the minister asked Mr Byarugaba to hand office over to Mr Ayota, who she initially reappointed on a three-year contract after he promptly retired upon attaining the retirement age.
However, the Deputy Solicitor General, Mr Pius Perry Biribonwoha, who said he was writing on instructions of the Attorney General, in a rejoinder told minister Amongi that the Public Service Standing Order does not apply to the NSSF chief executive.
In addition, the letter said Mr Byarugaba should run his five-year term to the end – yesterday - despite clocking retirement age mid-way. Because provisions in the Fund’s Human Resource Policy where conflicting, are subordinate to the terms set out in the instrument of appointment.
The differing opinions later led to a State House - Entebbe meeting chaired by President Museveni during which minister Amongi reportedly proposed that she would only offer Mr Byarugaba a fixed three-year contract extension, or he leaves if he declines, but the chief executive preferred a full five-year mandate in his view to progress the growth of the Fund.
Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, minister Amongi and her Finance counterpart Matia Kasaija, a co-supervisor of the Fund, attended the meeting that, according to sources, referred a determination on managing director job back to NSSF Board. We were unable to establish the number and particulars of nominees recommended by the Board to minister Amongi on Wednesday, this week.
RICHARD BYARUGABA’S FAREWELL LETTER TO STAFF
Today marks the last day of my current contract as Managing Director at the Fund.
I will be away from office starting tomorrow, 2nd December 2022 as I await the final decision on my employment situation with the Fund.
Patrick will act in that position until further notice as you may have seen from the press release from the Acting Board Chairman.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with you all to make the Fund a fantastic place to learn and work.
I am pretty confident that you will maintain the current momentum aimed at making the Fund the premium social security provider of choice.
Remember, what has gotten us here is doing the right thing for the benefit of the member, all the time. If you deviate from that, you will soon see the results!
Congratulations to Patrick for being appointed for another five years as DMD and for now taking over the mantle to achieve the strategic objectives we have set over the last couple of years.
Don’t forget the significantly changed legal environment that enables us aim for the sky in pleasing the member.
Hope we can meet again, maybe!