10 November 2018

Uganda: Kasaija Halts NSSF Board Appointments

Kampala — Finance minister Matia Kasaija has yielded to pressure from the National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu) and halted the appointment of a number of members to the board. The decision was taken on Thursday during a closed-door meeting at the ministry headquarters.

It was attended by the workers' representatives Charles Bakabulindi, Rwakajara Arinaitwe, Notu secretary general Peter Werikhe, Notu chairperson Usher Wilson Owere and a number of other officials from the Notu.

Notu members agreed with the minister that the whole process be halted to pave way for better consultations and handling of the issues raised by the Notu.

Mr Owere said the problem started when the Finance ministry asked them to send only two names, yet the Gender, Labour and Social Development ministry had recommended three people.

He said after sending the two names, the Finance ministry officials added another person who was not a member of the workers.

Notu had nominated Mr Peter Werikhe and Mr Stephen Mugole as their representatives to the board, but the minister reportedly objected, saying they were not the best suited people to fill the positions.

The contention

The ministry reportedly smuggled in the names of Ms Mercy Matende, a person they allegedly did not know and objected to. He said it was on this basis and the rejection of their nominees that they petitioned the Finance minister.

"We are wondering how another name ended up being our representative when we only sent in two names. We objected to this and when we met the minister, he was surprised and stopped the whole process and, therefore, they are going to review the entire process. It is these technical people in the ministry who are confusing the minister because of their selfish interests," he said.

Mr Kasaija was not available for clarification by press time.

Mr Jim Mugunga, the Finance ministry spokesperson, acknowledged the halting of the process, saying Notu has had issues with the appointments of the NSSF board on a number of occasions.

Mr Mugunga said the minister had found issues with the nominees of Notu and that discussions are ongoing to address them.

"The names nominated by the NOTU were found not to be fit," he said.

Mr Mugunga said while the interest groups such as Notu nominate their representative, the powers to appoint them entirely rests with the minister of Finance, who supervises the NSSF.

"The Minister of finance is empowered by the NSSF act to offer supervisory and oversight roles to the workers fund," he said.

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