By David Omoding
The leadership brawl between the top directors at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) recently attracted a lot of media attention, yet it could have been resolved internally without creating any public hullabaloo.
It is unfortunate that this leadership wrangle is not new and has been dragging on for years (since 2014) without being resolved. One wonders why it was swept under the carpet and all that management and those involved did was point fingers.
Following her recent statements, the Deputy Managing Director purports that directives from the NSSF board are in bad faith and are focused at implicating her; something that rubbed management the wrong way and seemed to accelerate the final decision to suspend her.
The only unanswered question is; where was the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to resolve this conflict since 2014 when it just sprouted. On that note, we urgently call upon the Minister to come-up and take a bold action to resolve this issue once and for all.
The NSSF Act of 1985 confers upon the Minister of Finance the power to appoint both the Managing and the Deputy Managing Director of the Fund.
Section (39) of the act states that “There shall be a managing director appointed by the Minister for such period and on such terms and conditions as the Minister deems fit and section (40) continues to say, there shall be a Deputy Managing Director appointed by the Minister on such terms and conditions of service as the Minister thinks fit.” The act also in section (3) adds that, “The Minister shall revoke the appointment of the director—if he or she is unable to perform functions of his or her office; if he or she is insolvent or bankrupt; or if he or she is convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Section (4) continues that a director may also, by writing under his or her hand addressed to the Minister, to resign his or her office.
All these imply that the Minister is the appointing authority and reserves the right to hire and fire; he can appoint and disappoint. Where is then the Minister of Finance to exercise his mandate and save us the drama at the NSSF? What has he been waiting for? All he needs to do and what Ugandan workers expect of him is to act and restore sanity at the NSSF?
The Act clearly points out that, it’s the Minister of Finance who is best suited to resolve this issue and this is the reason the Deputy Managing Director, according to Newspaper reports clearly stated that she was not appointed by the Board but by the Minister of Finance and that they do not have any authority to direct her on her leave. However, these clauses should not be abused to continue entrenching conflict.
The lasting solution to the leadership squabbles is to repeal the NSSF Act; overhaul it to enable the regulator play their role effectively, the powers of the Minister of Finance should be focused at supervising the regulator, play the government’s role of assuring safety of contributors funds and in consultation with the board and other stakeholders establish professional recruitment mechanisms as opposed to appointing.
This will minimize political interference and patronage. Currently the Minister has autonomous powers as he is the one who appoints all the Senior Management members including; the Chairperson of the Board, both the Managing and the Deputy Managing Director and this has tended to make the appointed officials pay more allegiance and loyalty to the appointing authority than contributors; let alone the Board of Directors.
Overhauling the Act will also address all the gaps and will ensure safety of the funds, enhance transparency, accountability and overall management of the NSSF as all its employees and those playing supervisory roles will be more accountable to its owners – the contributors than individuals.
The writer is the national advocacy and communication officer of the Platform for Labour Action