Parliament probe exposes formerly guarded NSSF secrets
Thanks to the ongoing inquiry into National Social Security Fund(NSSF), workers now know the Title for their Workers House multi-million investment is currently misplaced.
The Title is said to be in possession of Alcon Kenya. Yet more than a decade ago since former commercial court head, Justice David Wangutusi had decided against the firm’s claim for billions in construction fees in respect of the property.
NSSF had retained Alcon International to build Workers House. But an absolutely legally different firm, Alcon Kenya purportedly did that job.
This is how Wangutusi would reject flat to grant reliefs Alcon Kenya a stranger to the deal had sought from court.
That notwithstanding, Alcon Kenya, as per evidence now tabled before the parliament inquiry led by Hon. Mwine Mpaka, has since taken possession of the Title of Workers House as possibly a ransom to use to get paid by NSSF even after Justice Wangutusi overruled that.
We now also know the concerned authorities at the land registry have since placed a caveat on the Title with a view to stop NSSF from dealing with the property in any way.
Despite NSSF claiming to be pursuing a special certificate of Title in lieu of the one which is original and which is in possession of Alcon Kenya, legal experts call that an exercise in futility since the same process is barred by the caveat itself.
Related to that, we are also now aware the Title for Temangalo land isn’t in the names of NSSF almost ten years since former Prime Minister and Attorney General as well as defense minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and his business associate, Amos Nzeyi sold and got fully paid for that land by NSSF.
According to evidence now lying before the inquiry committee, the land is still in the names of Amos Nzeyi.
Elsewhere, reports have emerged previously about how some Asians also lay claim to the same chunk of land Nzeyi and Mbabazi sold to NSSF.
Counsel Peter Muliira who represents the Asians, asserts the man who sold the land to Nzeyi wasn’t the owner of the land since it belongs to his clients whom, he adds, were still in possession of a subsisting lease by the time the impugned transaction was negotiated and sealed.
But when the matter come up before the Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire, Nzeyi insisted he purchased the land legally from the person who owned it.
But as to why he hasn’t been unable to transfer the same land to NSSF after receiving due payment for it, that one only Nzeyi can help to throw more light on.
That aside, the inquiry has also helped to expose as purportedly fraudulent the Six billion shillings Gender and Labor Minister, Betty Amongi had sought from NSSF to purportedly use to mobilize more savers for the workers fund.
Both the minister of finance, Matia Kasaija and the chairman NSSF board, Peter Kimbowa revealed in their separate testimonies that such a request would be irregular. Pleasantly however, the Acting Managing Director of NSSF Patrick Ayota tried to allay the fears of the public on the UGX6bn, when he said the money had not yet been disbursed as the Board had asked management to prepare a detailed activities and work plan, and budget to support the objective.
Richard Byarugaba, the former NSSF MD, cried foul while appearing before the committee that he felt witch hunted after he was made to endure numerous investigations including several lifestyle audits by the office of the Inspector General of Government (IGG).
But the way he pinned Minister Betty Amongi, reduced the conflict to a dispute over money than anything else.
Byarugaba told the committee that he strongly thinks that because he declined to give that money to Amongi, it is the reason she also rejected to renew his reappointment as the president had guided her.
In his testimony, Kasaija backs Byarugaba. He clarifies to Amongi how NSSF’s money belongs to the workers not the government.
He counsels that what Amongi should have done is to present the budget to him as the Finance Minister as opposed to tabling the request to Byarugaba.
But Amongi differs. She points out how she had based her decision not to renew Byarugaba’s reappointment on guidance from the President’s powerful brother, Gen. Salim Saleh Akandwahano. That she did that basing on what she refers to cases of graft, abuse of office and misuse of resources under Byarugaba’s leadership.
Byarugaba fought back, insisting that the minister told lies. He alludes to what he refers to as numerous previous audits reports by auditors here and abroad who had continued to give a clean bill of health to the NSSF under his leadership.
Thanks to this inquiry, we also now know former workers MP, Dr. Sam Lyomoki not only appointed himself and counsel Peninnah Tukamwesiga to the NSSF Board. But also irregularly requested and actually irregularly got paid a cool one billion shillings to purportedly use to supervise NSSF as well as mobilize more contributors.
We also know there exists still an invisible battle over who between the finance and labor minister should be in charge of the workers mouth-watering savings.
This comes out clearly from the testimony of Byarugaba. He, backed by Kasaija and his other lieutenants, asserts during the time the finance minister was in charge, it was quite easy and fast to make decisions. That everything was running effectively and efficiently as opposed to during when the labor minister has been the one in charge.
The invisible hand from Above
The latest probe has once again exposed the fact that some of the troubles should be linked to an invisible hand that has cast a devilish spell on the UGX17 trillion fund.
NSSF’s head of Finance Steven Mwanje told the Parliamentary committee that some of the monies being investigated, was as a result of ‘Pressure’ from above.
Above, a mythical figure, has been cited before, not just about money but also in many human rights reports including on arrest of politicians. S/he works through a web of individuals to get money from different government agencies.
Yours truly will not dare put any names in these pages because we don’t have a faint idea of who above really is.
There is however a paralell thinking that some civil servants, those close to power, and ordinary politicians often help themselves on public resources by claiming pressure from Above.
There is so much shocking stuff that has come out through the parliament probe than can fit on this page.
The major conclusion one can perhaps make from the ongoing is that politicians or the government for that matter, hijacked the fund and wield(s) far greater influence to the extent that workers cannot choose who runs their affairs.
Because of this the managers dance to the tune of their appointing authority rather than serve the interests of the members.