When Richard Byarugaba returned to National Social Security Fund as Managing Director two years ago, there were mixed reasons both at the Fund and the ministries of Finance and that of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
Mr Byarugaba, who had scored third in both external and internal interviews, competed for the NSSF topmost position with former Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Executive Director Edgar Agaba, who emerged the best with 84 per cent and was followed by Mr Joseph Kitamirike, who scored 74 per cent while Byarugaba got 68 per cent in interviews conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
However, having failed to get a reason for refusal to give the job to the two best performers in both interviews, Ms Kiwanuka hired another firm from London to recruit the top three slots at NSSF but this too failed.
According to insider sources, the reason why neither Agaba nor Kitamirike got the job was that former Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka, had allegedly used her powerful ally within the Fund, who was none other than former Board chairman Ivan Kyayonka (RIP). At the time, sources further said Ms Geraldine Ssali was acting Managing Director, who the Minister and other cliques within the pension sector had wanted to take over as overall MD, but other board members objected to that and this led to a stalemate, paving the way for Byarugaba who was deemed a neutral candidate, to get hired. This was coupled with arguments that his earlier tenure at NSSF was successful and scandal-free.
In the meantime Mr Byarugaba had earlier appeared before a select committee of Parliament that was investigating mismanagement at NSSF and told the committee that his deputy (Ms Ssali) was among the people who were giving him a hard time. So when Byarugaba returned, there was cold blood between the top two bosses as Ms Ssali remained powerful; she was reportedly not taking any directives from Byarugaba but only remained answerable to Ms Kiwanuka and the then board chairperson Ivan Kyayonka. It is said that at the time Byarugaba remained ‘powerless’ “but pushed on with his junior employees and this was evident within the corridors of Workers’ House.”
How Ms Ssali lost control
When President Museveni made a cabinet reshuffle and dropped Ms Maria Kiwanuka as Finance Minister, who was also the supervisor of the Fund, sections of workers celebrated because the ‘godmother’ of Ms Ssali had been dropped. But the final blow for the Deputy MD came when Mr Kyayonka, the all powerful board chairperson of the Fund, who had reportedly believed, supported and protected Ms Ssali, passed on last year.
The sources told EagleOnline that when the new chairperson of the board Byabakama Kaberenge came in Ssali remained defiant, in the process rubbing the new board members the wrong way, culminating in her being sent on indefinite leave early this week.
“There are reasons why she has been sent on leave but she basically undermined her bosses and one such case is when the board chairman tried to reconcile her and Byarugaba, she remained defiant to him and she refused to answer him on a few issues that he inquired about,” a source told EagleOnline.
When contacted by EagleOnline, about why his deputy had been sent on leave, Mr Byarugaba said the decision was made by the board but he hastened to add that Ms Ssali remains a member of staff.
“The board asked her to go on leave and the process has been on but she still remains our worker,” Mr Byarugaba said on phone today.
Who is Geraldine Ssali Busuulwa
Ms Ssali is an accountant by profession and was appointed the NSSF Deputy Managing Director on March 20, 2011, to serve her first term. She was then reappointed to the same position on October 29, 2014.
Ms Ssali studied at Makerere University where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics before she enrolled for a Master’s degree in Business Administration at Manchester Business School.
She worked in the UK before returning home and moving to NSSF.