The petition notes “imposing compulsory registration eligibility, contribution, and restrictions on employers and employees violates rights of contributors and members to free, open and democratic society…”
NSSF managing director Richard Byarugaba
An activist has petitioned the Constitutional Court to declare that a
compulsory requirement that employees must register and save their retirement
money with only the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is illegal and limits
people’s freedom of choice and democracy.
The petition is filed by Morisson Rwakakamba who describes himself as a human
rights activist together with Agency for Transformation, a local think tank he
The petition notes“imposing compulsory registration eligibility, contribution,
and restrictions on employers and employees violates rights of contributors and
members to free, open and democratic society…” The prayer is that there
should be other avenues or pension funds where members can choose to put their
The call for the breaking of NSSF monopoly was a big highlight of the
Retirement sector Liberalization Bill 2011 which has since been shelved. The
bill was vehemently opposed by NSSF but had been supported by former Finance
Minister Maria Kiwanuka.
The proponents of the bill then argued that more players would force NSSF to be
innovative and impact savers’ lives more gainfully than to wait for them to
The petition, which is an amendment of one filed in May 2020, is mainly calling
for a provision that NSSF members have access to at least 20% of their savings
in times of emergencies like coronavirus pandemic. The talk over access to NSSF
savings peaked in May. It was opposed by NSSF managing director Richard
Byarugaba and Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority boss Martin
Members of Parliament in May passed an amendment to NSSF Act allow workers who
have saved for over 15 years but are below 45 years of age to have access to
20% of their savings. Still, this does not address the issue of emergencies.
Meanwhile, the petition also calls the court to declare that NSSF forms a workers’
bank be formed to do “public business that shall provide subsidized financing
for members’ businesses and mortgages or any other self-reliance initiative.”
Another prayer in the petition is that even when a member has retired and
received their savings, they or those that inherited their benefits should
continue receiving interest from the investments the fund owns simply because
their money was used to invest in those assets, including land, residential and
Severino Twinobusigye, the lawyer among those that are arguing the petition,
said: “The Constitutional Court performs its legal duty of constitutional
interpretation and can also grant remedies. Therefore, the Morrison petition is
properly before a competent Court with competent jurisdiction.”
The hearing of the petition will likely go on for some months or even years
when Ugandans have put the pandemic behind them.
However, it could be a worthy shot at reforming NSSF and see to it that it
benefits its 2.3 million members more than it does now.