Byarugaba loses case against NSSF boss, minister

Former National Social Security Fund managing director Richard Byarugaba (left) and his lawyer Anthony Bazira at the High Court in Kampala on September 27, 2023. PHOTO/ABUABKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Byarugaba had also sought a court order directing the minister to reappoint him for a five-year term as it had been recommended by the board.

High Court judge Musa Ssekaana has dismissed with no costs the case in which former National Social Security Fund (NSSF) managing director, Richard Byarugaba had sought for orders to quash the appointment of Mr Patrick Ayota as his successor at the Fund.
Mr Byarugaba had sued the Attorney General jointly with the Gender Minister, Ms Betty Amongi for refusing to re-appoint him as the Fund’s managing director.

“The appointment of the 3rd respondent (Ayota) was an act involving the Minister of Labour, and Social Development as the Minister (Betty Amongi) responsible for the affairs of NSSF through reporting and exercising supervisory function after applying her mind to the exercise of power and followed the law as prescribed and should not be interfered with in absence of any justification or any breaches of the law,” the judge said.
Justice Ssekaana ruled that the court cannot lightly presume abuse or misuse of power and will make allowance for the fact that the decision making authority is the best judge of the situation.

“This court cannot quash the appointment of the 3rd respondent which resulted from a recommendation of the Board. Such a decision would violate the principle of fairness and would amount to condemning the Board unheard in respect of their decision to appoint the 3rd respondent,” the judge held.
He also noted that the courts need to recognize that there is always need to justify their intervention or non-intervention in administrative matters as their constitutional role in judicial review is sometimes limited in their capacity to decide matters which admit no generalized or objective determination.

Mr Byarugaba had also sought a court order directing the minister to reappoint him for a five-year term as it had been recommended by the board.
But Mr Ayota in his defence stated that if Byarugaba’s case is allowed, it would be against public interest for the Fund to be without strategic leadership which would have disastrous effect for the Fund. 
“That the exercise of the Court’s discretion and the interests of justice favour the stability of the Fund as opposed to the unmeritorious cries of a single disgruntled person whose recommendation for appointment was rejected based on sound, legal and cogent reasons,” Mr Ayota stated.

He contended that the interests of justice for the entire membership of the Fund override any purported interest that the applicant (Byarugaba) had in a leadership position that he was found unfit to occupy.
Mr Ayota who was appointed to the helm of the fund clarified that he was appointed in acting capacity due to his stellar performance as deputy managing director at the Fund and that it was upon his performance that he was appointed in substantive capacity.

“I note that nothing in his (Byarugaba’s) affidavits or the annexures thereto impeaches my competence to be appointed as the managing director, NSSF,” stated Mr Ayota dismissing Byarugaba’s claims as false, misleading and misrepresenting the factual position regarding his appointment.
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