THE National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is back in the headlines.
A forensic report commissioned by the Auditor General gives a scandalous account of gambling junkets, outright fraud and indefensible abuse of office by previous managers, all of which have cost the fund hundreds of millions of shillings over the last few years.
The fund collects monies from its worker members and their employers. It is then supposed to invest this money on the membersâ€™ behalf, with the intention that on retirement, the beneficiaries can get a sizeable package.
There are moves to change from paying a lumpsum amount to retiring members, towards a lifelong pension plan.
Because workers are mandated to pay into the fund, raising funds is the least of NSSFâ€™s worries.
But it is the delicate balancing act shepherding these funds to maximise returns on investment and paying workers a return higher than inflation year-in, year-out, that seems to be tripping up NSSF bosses.
They say that power is the true test of character. Judging by the high turnover of managers at NSSF, it is clear we have been unable to find managers of character who can resist the temptation of NSSFâ€™s billions.
Two things seem to be the problem. One, the recruitment process seems to be badly flawed as to be unable to source and hire competent managers of unshakable integrity. Is it possible that such men and women do not exist in Uganda?
Secondly, the management systems, the checks and balances that are supposed to keep management in line seem badly deficient at best or non-existent at worst.
The excesses highlighted in the Auditor Generalâ€™s report give added impetus to the move towards the liberalisation of the social security sector.
For how long can the workers of Uganda continue to have their hard-earned money pilfered by the grubby fingers of managers of questionable moral standing?
The Government, as the overseer of the fund, needs to get its act together, improve the recruitment process at NSSF, institute more robust management systems and liberalise the sector.
Plug loopholes in NSSF management