NSSF saver turns gun on Lyomoki

Mr Job Richard Matua appears before Parliament’s Select Committee investigating the NSSF saga on January 31, 2023. Inset is Coftu secretary general, Dr Sam Lyomoki. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Dr Sam Lyomoki, the Coftu secretary general, is accused of nominating himself and a close friend to represent workers on the NSSF board.

Legislators on the Select Committee investigating the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) saga have been tasked to look into the circumstances under which a top official of the Central Organisation of Free Trade Unions (Coftu) asked for the release of Shs1billion of savers’ money for unknown activities.

Dr Sam Lyomoki, the Coftu secretary general, was accused of inter alia nepotism, with Mr Job Richard Matua—a saver with the Fund—detailing a laundry list of illegalities that includes “nominat[ing] himself and his [friend] to represent workers on the board yet there was no consensus.”

Mr Mwine Mpaka (Mbarara City South), the chairperson of the select committee, ended Mr Matua’s presentation prematurely as he attempted to offer details about a request for “almost Shs1 billion for activities not known to even executive [members] of [Coftu].”

Mr Mpaka made clear that the scope of the probe involves examining the corporate governance structures at NSSF, circumstances surrounding the appointment of the Fund’s managing director, evaluating the status and safety of the saver’s money in the fund, examining the extent of stakeholder engagement in decision making process at the Fund and inquiring into any other relevant matters. 

Despite or in fact because the issues Mr Matua alleged fall in the latter, he was advised to return to the committee on Friday with documents corroborating his allegations.

Mr Lyomoki, a workers’ lawmaker, would later call the allegations directed at him as baseless and spearheaded by his opponents. 

“You can tarnish my name, but I will remain serving my call whether in NSSF or not,” he responded. 
Mr Lyomoki also clarified that the money used to run Coftu’s activities comes from various entities such as the International Labour Organisation, a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice by setting international labour standards. 

Mr Matua told the committee yesterday that Mr Lyomoki “author[ed] documents requesting for finances from NSSF” in his capacity as Coftu general secretary. There is a school of thought that has construed such an action as a classic case of conflict of interest since Mr Lyomoki is part of the NSSF board.

The probe continues today with the Select Committee interfacing with the Workers’ MPs, Federation of Employers (FUE), the NSSF board as well as the current NSSF management.

The growing trend
A Pandora’s box was opened when Labour minister Betty Amongi opted not to give Mr Richard Byarugaba another crack at the Fund’s top job after his contract run its course on December 1, 2022. Mr Patrick Ayota, whose reappointment as a substantive deputy managing director was confirmed last December, currently holds fort at the Shs17-trillion Fund.

Minister Amongi accused Mr Byarugaba of various alleged acts of mismanagement and corruption. She consequently declined to reappoint him and instead instructed the NSSF board to write to the Inspector General of Government (IGG) to have him investigated. Mr Mpaka has previously said the findings of the parliamentary probe will aid ombudsman Beti Kamya’s job.