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Court to Decide on Byarugaba's Contract Renewal Case in March :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Court to Decide on Byarugaba's Contract Renewal Case in March

According to Byarugaba, the decision also disregarded the Inspector General of Government’s report, which cleared him of allegations and supported the Board’s recommendation based on his previous performance in office.
Former NSSF MD Richard Byarugaba with his lawyer Anthony Bazira (right) at Court.
The High Court in Kampala has fixed March 7th 2024 to decide on the case in which former Managing Director of National Social Security Fund Richard Byarugaba is challenging the decision not to renew his contract.

The Civil Division Judge Musa Ssekaana on Monday fixed the date for judgement after the lawyers representing the parties appeared before him to ascertain if they had complied with his previous directives regarding putting in written submissions.

Wanyama Kodoli the State Attorney represented the government, Augustine Edoti represented the Managing Director of NSSF Patrick Ayota who is the third respondent and Anthony Bazira,  Byarugaba's lawyer.

When the matter came up, Bazira told the Judge that they have not filed a rejoinder to the respective defenses filed by the respondents in this case , because they had been served late. 

"Your lordship as per the schedule of this court we have not been able to file our submissions in rejoinder because of the late service of the submissions on the respondent's counsel.  I have spoken to my learned friend from Attorney General  and I have not yet spoken to counsel for the 3rd respondent(Ayota's)  and I was praying to file our submissions in rejoinder in a weeks time", said Bazira .

Bazira asked to be given more time  to make a rejoinder.

Consequently, Justice Ssekaana granted Byarugaba 's lawyer more time as per his request and fixed March 7th 2024 to decide the case.

The evidence before Court indicates that in  August 2023, Byarugaba filed a petition against the Attorney General and the Gender and Labour Minister Betty  Amongi, seeking court orders for Amongi to fulfill her statutory duties and complete his reappointment as the NSSF MD, as recommended by the Board and required by the law.    

Byarugaba’s argument is based on procedural irregularities and the decision leading the Minister to the Board’s recommendation for his reappointment. He said there was a violation of his legitimate expectations by not affording him a fair hearing. 

He further went on to say that Patrick Ayota  his successor was not fit to head NSSF.

  

Byarugaba had served the NSSF MD since August 1, 2010, and his second appointment, which began on November 29, 2017, expired on November 30, 2022. 

Byarugaba contends that even before his second contract could run its course, Amongi attempted to prematurely end it by stating that he should have retired upon reaching 60 years of age.   He adds that only with the intervention of the Attorney General was he able to complete his second term of office.

The NSSF Board of Directors had recommended renewing the contracts of both Byarugaba and his then-deputy Ayota.   

However, Amongi renewed only the contract of the Deputy MD and deferred Byarugaba’s appointment, citing various allegations, including financial impropriety, collusion with contractors, defiance of presidential directives, and corruption.      

Despite meetings at State House on December 6, 2022, and receiving guidance from President Yoweri Museveni to conclude Byarugaba’s appointment process, Amongi did not follow the guidance.  

Byarugaba argues that this, along with ignoring the February 2023 report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the state of affairs at NSSF where he was cleared of financial impropriety allegations, makes the decision not to renew his contract illegal, irrational, and procedurally incorrect. 

According to Byarugaba, the decision also disregarded the Inspector General of Government’s report, which cleared him of allegations and supported the Board’s recommendation based on his previous performance in office.

However, as the matter was pending  in court, Amongi elevated Ayota and appointed him as the Managing Director of the fund.  

Byarugaba asked the court to allow him amend his petition and include Ayota as the third respondent such that he can be given a fair hearing and he defends himself over the allegations. His application succeeded and Ayota was consequently put as the third respondent in this case so as to determine issues at once.

After adding Ayota,  Byarugaba  told Court that Ayota was appointed on August 18th, 2023, while holding the substantive statutory position of Deputy MD on a fixed five-year term, making him ineligible for the MD up appointment.     

Through his lawyer  Bazira, Byarugaba requested the court to invalidate Ayota’s appointment and issue a permanent injunction to prevent Ayota from acting as the MD of the fund.

After being listed as a respondent,  Ayota swore a 38 page affidavit firing  back at his former boss saying that he (Ayota) has all the requisite competencies and work experience to serve as Managing Director of NSSF.  

He said , the interests of the entire countrywide membership of the fund override any purported interest that Byarugaba has in a leadership position that he was found unfit to occupy.

Ayota says that in the interest of justice, Byarugaba’s appointment should not be granted. He argued that if granted, there would be a leadership lacuna that could put the whole fund in limbo without a substantive accounting officer to safeguard members' savings.

According to Ayota, his appointment was done lawfully, is valid, and was not done to defeat the present application for judicial as alleged by Byarugaba.

Ayota further stated that the 18 trillion shilling fund is at risk of misuse and stagnation and warned that it would be against the public interest for the fund to go without strategic leadership. 

He says in the interest of justice, fairness, and equity, Byarugaba's application should be dismissed with costs for lack of merit and to favor the stability of the fund.


Records indicated that the  NSSF under the stewardship of Byarugaba and his then Deputy Ayota  currently has 2,000,000 members and assets worth 18 trillion Shillings and based on this performance, Byarugaba wants the decision not to renew his contract to be set aside.

It's against this background that the court is set to deliver it's decision next year .