OPINION | NSSF
By George Ntambaazi
I was disturbed by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) board recommendation and subsequent action by Finance Minister Hon. Philip Kasaija not to renew the contract of NSSF deputy managing director, Geraldine Ssali Busuulwa which expires this month yet he renewed that of the current MD Mr. Richard Byarugaba, despite the glaring fights between them.
Kasaija, a politician, basing on a questionable staff performance report swiftly commissioned by Byarugaba and board Chairman Mr. Patrick Kaberenge, went ahead to extend Mr. Byarugaba’s contract for five years and appointed Mr. Patrick Ayota the new deputy MD.
There has been a long history of stupid fights and acrimony amongst top technocrats at NSSF ever since the fund was set up in 1985. Fights are always amongst board members, with the ministry of finance, gender, labour and social development ministry or trade unions over control of the provident fund.
As a result, public opinion about NSSF and top bosses is mixed. Past scandals on irregular recruitment and suspicious investment decisions which have been questioned by parliament have had disastrous effects on the fund. There is much underneath these fights which needs to be inquired into for the proper functioning of the fund for the benefit of members and economic growth our country. One wonders whether NSSF has inspectors.
In a recent report by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), it was revelaed that NSSF bosses rank second to Bank of Uganda amongst most highly paid public servants in this country.
Social security savings held in NSSF now amounts to over 4.5 trillion and growing at an average of 50 – 60 billion, and is perhaps the second biggest pool of savings after commercial banks deposits in Uganda. With this money, there is no reason why its members and the country remain poor.
An independent body must therefore look at the actors, the context , the work politics, the legal framework that guides them and whether NSSF employees are bound together by a common loyalty and purpose.
Understanding of these may facilitate a smooth operation and management of the fund. I tend to think that behind everything wrong at NSSF is a problem selfish interests and leadership. Sanity at the fund would not be achieved at the expense of concorted biased appraisal reports that recommend kicking out those with contrary views.
We need to thouroughly look at Ms. Ssali’s situation. Her job and career at NSSF comes to an end not by her choice, but by powerful forces within and outside. It is alleged that she has been an outspoken critic of the current MD, who now controversially gets a new 5- year contract, yet three years ago, renowned audit firm, Price Water Coopers (PWC) and NSSF Board Interviews ranked him third in the race for Managing Director job.
It is not fair for this country to make Geraldine Ssali feel like she doesnt matter, or like she doesn‘t have a place in the NSSF story. She does. Otherwise, everything appears as if it is steeped in revenge and the country must listen to her cries. Its good she has appealed to the head of state to listen to her silent but loud voice.
The writer is NSSF member and a lawyer