NSSF probe kicks off today with workers, whistleblower

The Chairperson of the select committe, Mwine Mpaka presenting a report of the select committee on the motion to censure the Minister of state for lands, Ms Persis Namuganza, during the plenary at Parliament on January 23.  PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The committee has released its workplan for this week, including witnesses and a tour of the fund’s key project.

The Select Committee at Parliament investigating the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) saga starts work this morning with an interactive meeting with a whistleblower called Job and two workers’ unions.
Whistleblowers are individuals who often expose hush-hush information on a person or organisation’s wrongdoings.

The two workers’ unions that the Committee will be directing questions to are the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (Coftu) and the National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu) to explain NSSF’s funding activities to them.

While addressing journalists at the House yesterday, Mr Mwine Mpaka (Mbarara City South), the chairperson of the select committee, said they will, among other things, look at circumstances around the appointment of the NSSF Managing Director, corporate governance at the Fund, establish whether people’s savings are safe, and claims of corruption.

Mr Mpaka is backed by Mr Charles Bakkabulindi (Workers), Mr Karim Masaba (Industrial Division, Mbale City), Mr Michael Kakembo (Entebbe Municipality), Ms Fortunate Nantongo (Kyotera District Woman), Ms Laura Kanushu (Persons with Disabilities), and Mr Amos Kankunda (Rwampara County).

According to Parliament’s Rules of Procedure 190-(1), the House may, at any time upon a motion moved after notice given, appoint a select committee to investigate a particular matter.

The meetings will continue throughout the week with the team tomorrow (Wednesday) interfacing with workers’ legislators, the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), the NSSF Board, and the current NSSF management. 

On Thursday, Mr Richard Byarugaba, the outgoing NSSF Managing Director, will appear before the Committee to answer, among other things, allegations including abuse of office, corruption, and mismanagement of workers’ funds. On the same day, the Committee will meet with the Labour minister and that of Finance.

Ms Betty Amongi [Gender] is in charge of supervision and operation matters of NSSF while Mr Matia Kasaija [Finance] oversees the Fund’s investments. The day’s activities will end with a meeting with Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA) whose role, among others, includes controlling the retirement sector in the country.

On Friday, the Committee will listen to the Uganda Law Society (ULS), Attorney General, Auditor General and the Corporate Governance Institution. The day will then end with a field visit to Pension Towers, the office building NSSF is erecting in Nakasero, a Kampala suburb. 

Mr Mpaka said the reason for the action-packed week is to allow the respondents to answer simultaneously to concerns.

“There are some stakeholders that we need to appear at the same time because of the various allegations and we want them to respond in the same meetings,” he said, adding “We don’t want to get responses [to the claims] later”. 

The Select Committee is, however, not conducting the probe alone. Following a previous recommendation from the NSSF Board, the Inspector General of Government (IGG) was tasked to look into the alleged abuse of office, corruption, and mismanagement of workers’ funds by Mr Byarugaba. 

Mr Mpaka said the Committee is aware of the investigations being conducted by the IGG.
“Whatever we do, we will inform the IGG on what steps [taken] because we are sure our report will be ready earlier than IGG’s,” he said. 

On the question of why he is always being appointed to head select committees, Mr Mpaka said the nominations are determined by their party whips before Parliament makes the final decision. 
Mr Mpaka, previously chaired the select committee to investigate the alleged misconduct of junior Lands minister, Ms Persis Namuganza, who was censured last week.

Parliament’s Rules of Procedure 190-(2-3) state that a Select Committee shall comprise at least five Members who shall be designated by Party Whips, on the basis of proportional Party representation in the House, taking into consideration the interests of the Independent Members in the House. The Speaker shall [afterwards] in consultation with the Government Chief Whip and the Chief Opposition Whip, appoint Members and the Chairpersons of the Select Committee.

Witnesses this week 
•Today [Tuesday]: A whistleblower called Job and two workers’ unions

•Tomorrow [Wednesday]: Workers’ MPs, Federation of Employers (FUE), NSSF Board, current NSSF management

•Thursday: Richard Byarugaba, former NSSF Managing Director, Ministry of Gender, Ministry of Finance and the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (URBRA)

•Friday: Uganda Law Society, 
Attorney General, Auditor General and Corporate Governance Institution. 

This week’s meetings will be concluded with a field visit to Pension Tower, the building NSSF is erecting in Nakasero, a Kampala suburb.