Kampala I The former managing director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Richard Byarugaba has petitioned the civil division of the High court challenging a decision not to renew his contract.
Byarugaba is also seeking an order directing Gender, Labour and Social Development minister Betty Amongi to fulfil her statutory duties and complete his reappointment as the MD of NSSF as recommended by the board and required by the law.
Byarugaba argues that the decision to reject the recommendation of the board to reappoint him was procedurally incorrect because it was done without giving him a right to a fair hearing thereby violating his legitimate expectations.
Evidence before court shows that Byarugaba has served as managing director of NSSF since August 1, 2010, and his second appointment which started on November 29, 2017, expired on November 30, 2022.
He argues that even before his second contract could run its course, Amongi attempted to end it prematurely when she wrote to him saying that he should have retired automatically upon clocking the age of 60.
Byarugaba adds that even without a reference to the attorney general for advice, Amongi had ordered him to cease being the director on July 22, 2022. According to him, it was only with the intervention of the attorney general that he was able to complete his second term of office.
The NSSF board of directors had earlier recommended that Byarugaba, together with his deputy Patrick Ayota should have their respective contracts renewed. Evidence shows that the attorney general had also advised that there was no legal bar if the board had advised the permanent secretary to renew his contract.
But despite this, Amongi renewed only the contract of the deputy MD and deferred Byarugaba’s appointment citing financial impropriety, collusion with contractors, defiance of presidential directives, misrepresentation of facts, and corruption among other accusations.
“I know by the said letter, dated December 7, 2022, Amongi assumed the role of my primary accuser since she did not disclose any identifiable source from where the allegations originated,” says Byarugaba in his affidavit supporting the case.
Byarugaba’s evidence further shows that the stakeholders in this issue met in the State House on December 6, 2022, and were directed by President Yoweri Museveni to conclude the process of his appointment. However, Amongi didn’t heed the guidance.
Byarugaba says that this, coupled with ignoring the February 2023 report of the parliamentary select committee on the state of affairs at NSSF where he was cleared of any financial impropriety, shows that the decision not to renew his contract was illegal, irrational, unreasonable and procedurally incorrect.
Byarugaba says the decision ignored the outcome of the report of the Inspector General of Government, which cleared him of myriad allegations crafted against him and vindicated the board’s recommendation that he had met the statutory standard for reappointment with regard to his previous performance in office.
“The impugned decision was demonstrably motivated by animosity and active bias on the part of 2nd respondent/Amongi towards the applicant, manifested by her assumption of the role of the accuser, investigator, prosecutor and ultimately judge contrary to the rules of natural justice,” says Byarugaba.
Records indicated that the NSSF under the stewardship of Byarugaba and his deputy currently has 2,000,000 members and assets worth Shs 17 trillion. The application which has been filed by her lawyers of Byenkya, Kihiika and Company Advocates is yet to be allocated to a judge who will be fixing it for hearing.