By Our Senior Reporters
NRA Veteran war hero ,Gen Salim Saleh has written to cartoonist and social critic Spire Sentongo after the latter drew a cartoon depicting the general to be involved in the running leadership battles at the NSSF .
In a brief three sentence letter dated January 17 , 2023 ,Gen. Saleh wrote thus ; “ Dear Spire Sentongo, Compare and Contrast Namukekera Rural Industrial Center and NSSF Pension Towers at Nakasero.”
Gender Minister Betty Amongi is embroiled in a leadership row with NSSF outgoing MD Richard Byarugaba. Amongi has since declined to renew Byarugaba’s contract accusing him of corruption and mismanagement .
On the other hand , Byarugaba’s backers are accusing Amongi of fighting Byarugaba because he refused to endorse Amongi s request to include in the NSSF budget Ug.Shs.6bn of workers savings for “ mobilization” activities .
Sentongo’s cartoon follows a 17 page communication by Gender Minister Amongi ,dated December 7, 2022 and addressed to the NSSF Chairman Board of Directors in which she repeatedly refers to meetings at Kapeka (where General Saleh operates from ) where Byarugaba’s management style was discussed .
In the document headlined “ Deferral of appointment of MD, NSSF, pending clarifications on emerging issues, Gender Minister Amongi writes , “ However, after our meeting at Kapeka yesterday , you note that there were serious issues that have been raised on top of all the other issues I discussed with you severally .
In view of the above , the concerns which were raised after the approval of the appointment of MD during the Kapeka meeting , and other new issues ought to be re-examined by the board and clarity provided before I appoint him as recommended .”
Amongi has stuck to her guns declining to renew Byarugaba’s contract even after her immediate boss the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja wrote and instructed her to renew the MD’s contract . The President has since directed for a full investigation in the management affairs of the NSSF .
Amongi’s controversial request to use Ug.Shs. 6bn of workers money
Amongi has defended the Ug.shs. 6bn she directed the NSSF Management and Board to include in its 2023/24 budget to “mobilise” more savings for the fund.
While addressing journalists at the Media Center in Kampala Amongi recently ,Amongi said that the Ug.Shs.6bn she directed to be included in the NSSF budget is for activities that will be implemented by NSSF management and not her Gender Ministry .
“These strategic initiatives had corresponding activities for which an allocation of UGX 6 billion was approved in the budget in June, 2022 and the work plan was reviewed in November 2022. I would like to demystify the ongoing misinformation .The 6bn budget I approved is appropriated under NSSF operation Budget for 2022/2023,” Amongi stated.
She added , “The activities I have mentioned above are NSSF activities and not of the Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development. These activities will be undertaken by the NSSF in partnership with relevant entities, be it government agencies or private sector players.
The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will only provide oversight, and support the Fund in the implementation of these activities, in line with its legal mandate as the Ministry responsible for social security,” she added .
Money Ug. Shs. 6bn included in NSSF budget after Amongi’s directive
The Shs.Ug.6b was included in the NSSF budget after Amongi wrote a letter dated June 16th ,2022 addressed to Dr. Peter Kimbowa the Board Chairman in which she directed that the money be provided .
“ As discussed to achieve our objective of expanding collections of contributions from workers through collaboration with key stakeholders as agreed in our meeting , provide an allocation of Shs.6 Billion from operating budget of shs.220,885,834,375 (Two hundred and twenty billion, eight hundred and eighty five million , eight hundred and thirty four thousand three hundred and seventy five shillings only ) to cater for the key priorities ,” Amongi ‘s letter states in part.
Back ground :
It is reported that outgoing NSSF MD Richard Byarugaba and his management team had rejected Minister Amongi’s directive to include the Ug.Shs.6bn in the fund’s budget which led to a rift between the two principals . Amongi declined to renew Byarugaba’s contract but renewed that of his Deputy Patrick Ayota. Both gentlemen had locked 60 years and their contracts had expired .
Several meetings where then convened after the Board of Directors led by Dr. Peter Kimbowa recommended that Byarugaba’s contract be renewed for another five years .
Prime Minister Hon. Robinnah Nabbanja to write to Gender Minister Amongi to reappoint Byarugaba following several meetings with concerned stakeholders . However, Amongi defied the Prime Minister’s directive when President Museveni was away attending the USA-Africa summit in Washington DC .
The Inspector General of Government (IGG) , Beti Kamya took over the investigations as per President Yoweri Museveni’s directives that both Gender Minister Betty Amongi and long serving Managing Director Richard Byarugaba be investigated about the management of the fund .
The IGG Beti Kamya has already swung into action freezing all NSSF expenditures including the Ug.Shs. 6bn which has now been included in a revised budget for NSSF for the financial year 2023-2024. In a letter to NSSF Board and Management Kamya directed that no funds apart from the wage bill and statutory obligations should be spent until the investigations have been completed.
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