What you need to know:
- The extraordinary board meeting came days after the leaking of a letter in which Gender and Labour minister Betty Amongi made serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement against NSSF former managing director Richard Byarugaba.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board held an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Kampala to resolve a leadership crisis that has raised questions about the governance of the Fund and tested the confidence of its members.
The extraordinary board meeting came days after the leaking of a letter in which Gender and Labour minister Betty Amongi made serious allegations of corruption and mismanagement against NSSF former managing director Richard Byarugaba.
Mr Byarugaba’s contract expired on December 1, 2022. He and his deputy, Patrick Ayota, had reached the retirement age of 60, but were eligible for reappointment.
Ms Amongi reappointed Mr Ayota, 63, to a five-year contract as deputy managing director and acting managing director but has deferred reappointing Mr Byarugaba, despite a recommendation from the board.
Instead, the minister directed the NSSF board to initiate an investigation into the allegations against Mr Byarugaba.
Board chairperson Peter Kimbowa wrote to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) on December 27 to initiate the investigation.
“The details of the petitions to the minister and the preliminary documents related to the allegations including whistle-blower reports shall be forwarded to you by the minister in confidence,” he wrote.
Apart from the allegations of corruption, the minister accuses Mr Byarugaba of poor performance, defying presidential directives, poor strategic investments, as well as “misrepresentation and defiance”.
“This has constrained me from renewing the contract of the Managing Director, Mr Richard Byarugaba, until you provide me with concrete responses addressing all the concerns raised above,” she wrote in a December 7 letter to the NSSF board chairman.
In Tuesday’s extraordinary meeting the board directed Mr Kimbowa to urgently respond to the minister’s letter.
“These allegations are not against the managing director,” a board member who attended the meeting said. “They are against the Fund and we need to respond. Why should we keep quiet?”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the board.
Ms Amongi confirmed to this publication that she had directed the board to ask the IGG to investigate the matter.
In a response to wide-ranging inquiries from this this publication, NSSF spokesperson Barbara Teddy Arimi said: “The questions that you have raised may be subject to ongoing investigations by the IGG and, therefore, we are not at liberty to discuss them. It is, therefore, prudent that we await the IGG’s investigation. We assure our members that we are operating normally.
We continue to receive member contributions, make investments and pay out benefits to qualifying members.”
In her letter, Ms Amongi said she had changed her mind about reappointing Mr Byarugaba after a December 7, 2022 meeting between the board and Gen (rtd) Caleb Akandwanaho, aka Salim Saleh, the overall coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation who is also President Museveni’s brother, at his base in Kapeeka, near Luweero.
“However, after our meeting at Kapeeka yesterday, you note that there were serious issues that have been raised on top of all the other issues I discussed with you severally,” she wrote. “In view of the above, the concerns which were raised after the approval of the appointment of managing director during the Kapeeka meeting, and other new issues ought to be re-examined by the board and clarity provided before I appoint him as recommended.”
However, two board members who attended the meeting said separately that the minister’s letter did not accurately reflect the discussion between Gen Saleh and the NSSF Board.
“The minister’s letter only has a passing resemblance to the discussion we had in Kapeeka,” one of the two officials said. They asked to speak anonymously because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the board.
This this publication has seen a copy of Gen Saleh’s presentation to the NSSF board. It does not include the corruption and mismanagement allegations levelled against the former Fund managing director.
Mr Ayota, in a statement yesterday, said: “We have taken note of reports circulating in mainstream and social media about operations, and the ongoing process to appoint a substantive Managing Director, of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). We inform NSSF members, stakeholders and the public that the matters raised are subject to an ongoing investigation by the Inspectorate of Government.
It added: “We are therefore not at liberty to discuss them at this point. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we will inform members and the public on the next course of action upon conclusion of the investigations.”
The statement further read: “We re-affirm that the Fund is operating normally in the execution of its mandate. The Fund continues to receive member contributions, make investments, and pay benefits to qualifying members.”