On September 1st, 2021, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) announced the appointment of a new Board of Directors by Matia Kasaija, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development—the fund’s line ministry. These were to serve for the next three years (until August 31st, 2024) before their contracts could be renewed or kicked out.
Dr. Peter Kimbowa, was appointed the new chairman, replacing Patrick Byabakama Kaberenge, whose two terms expired on August 31, 2021.
The board also included David Kibenge from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and Patrick Ocailap, representing the finance ministry while Dr. Eng. Silver Mugisha and Fred Bamwesigye represented the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE).
Other appointees were Sam Lyomoki and Penninah Tukamwesiga on behalf of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) while Julius Bahemuka and Hassan Lwabayi Mudiba represented the National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) and the NSSF managing director Richard Byarugaba serving as the executive member of the board.
However, barely five months after the appointment , two members have mysteriously quit the board. They reportedly left in March this year. These are NOTU representative Julius Bahemuka and FUE representative Fred Bamwesigye who is also the Director General of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA). It should be noted that at the time of the appointment, Bamwesigye was then in hot soup over various mismanagement allegations at Entebbe based CAA. The appointment therefore served as a vote of no confidence in his accusers who wanted to portray him as unfit to occupy such a big office. On the contrary MOFPED officials were satisfied with his performance record and deemed it fit to include him on prestigious boards like that of NSSF to tap into his wealth of experience and knowledge.
WHAT WENT WRONG
It has now emerged that the board was not selected along gender cards. Out of ten members, there was only one woman—COFTU’s Representative Penninah Tukamwesiga. At the instigation of Tororo District Woman MP, Sarah Opendi that appointing only one woman on a board of ten members was against the one third gender rule provided for in the country’s law books including the Constitution that guarantees equality of all Ugandans, then Deputy Speaker, Anitah Among vowed not to approve the new board if the finance ministry doesn’t put into account the gender equality concerns raised.
We have also learnt that the accusers of CAA’s Fred Bamwesigye protested his appointment and reportedly threatened to spill the beans not only about him but even NSSF and MOFPED bosses. Their argument was that Bamwesigye was still under probe by various institutions including the office of the president, parliament. And therefore his appointment would be seen as a back-stab in the fight against alleged poor governance in government agencies.
Insiders say the minister of finance listened to these concerns and had to act. We are told a decision was made to engage Bamwesigye and Bahemuka with a view of relinquishing their board positions at least voluntarily or be forced out. Sources say they attempted to protest the move but later coiled and gave in on a condition that they had to be compensated. NSSF board members are appointed for three-year renewable term. Sources say they demanded to be compensated for six years—three years for the first term and three years for a second term which they hoped to get.
NSSF board members earn a monthly retainer fee of Shs2.5m for the chairperson and Shs2m each for other members. They also get some allowances every time they sit. Going by a six year compensation it implies each member could have walked away with about Shs144million for free, an allegation this publication was unable to independently verify.
BAMWESIGYE, BAHEMUKA REPLACED
After intense lobbying and putting gender sensitivity into consideration, this publication has learnt that Finance Trust Bank Managing Director Annet Nakawunde Mulindwa has been suggested to replace CAA’s Bamwesigye. Uganda Nurses & Midwifes Union’s Treasurer Annet Birungi has also been suggested to replace Bahemuka. This publication has contacted the ministry of Finance and NSSF for a comment.
Whereas Birungi can boast of landing into things as an NSSF board member, she will have to clear her name which has been cited in several allegations that saw Dr.Byarugaba Baterana (BB) lose his job recently as the Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital. Birungi has already been summoned by State House’s health monitoring Unit and as well Police’s CIID. The probe centre’s around how a piece of land just next to the entrance of Mulago hospital and behind Shell petrol station ended up in the hands of the Nurses and Midwives Union, and later sold/leased to First Pharmacy Uganda Limited who are now erecting there a storied building to serve as a hospital. Sources say, money in a range of Shs2bn exchanged hands and Annet being a treasurer of the Nurses and Midwives Union may be in possession of valuable information to aid investigations which can either save or sink her alongside BB and others.
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