Of How Deputy Managing Director Geraldine Ssali was fired from National Social Security Fund

Geraldine Ssali and NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba
Geraldine Ssali and NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba

The embattled National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Deputy Managing Director Geraldine Ssali is back on the storm once again.

Having survived the sack temporarily, recently after securing a court injunction, this time NSSF board wants her out again.

The new information coming in is that NSSF recommended the sacking of Geraldine Ssali Busulwa after a detailed Staff and Corporate Affairs (SACA) Committee of the Board report noted that she was not suitable for the position.

In 2016 Ssali was suspended by NSSF board on grounds of indiscipline. She sued NSSF, the board chairman Kaberenge and Byarugaba and the courts cancelled her suspension and reinstated her in office pending investigations into her alleged insubordination. However two days after the court order, the security guards at Workers House, blocked her from entering her office forcing her to go to court and sue the Byarugaba and Kaberenge over contempt of a court.

She would later hold a meeting with Finance Minister Kasaijja  and some members of the board  and it was resolved that she be reinstated but on condition that she withdraws all the cases against NSSF in the High Court.

She however maintained that NSSF, the board chairman and the MD to pay her a fine of Shs1billion plus compensation for contempt of court

The board according to sources arrived at the decision to terminate her services after receiving advice from the board’s sub-committee on Staff and Corporate Affairs (SACA). The SACA committee report, largely agreed with a report tabled to it by the Funds Managing Director Richard Byarugaba- Geraldine’s supervisor and after discussing it, they anonymously agreed that Geraldine’s contract should not be renewed and proceeded to advise the full board on the same.

SACA is composed of Florence Mawejje, Penninah Tukamwesiga, Nelson Makwasi and Richard Byarugaba.

Mawejje is a seasoned HR professional who has worked at MTN and is currently the HR boss at Centenary Bank, but also serves on the boards of Umeme and Uganda Clays.

The seven members of the nine NSSF board reportedly sat on September 25th 2017 to review and consider SACA’s report and a possibility of renewing the contracts of the three statutory appointees- Richard Byarugaba (Managing Director), Geraldine Ssali (Deputy Managing Director) and Richard Wabwire (Corporation Secretary) – the trio’s 3 year contracts are due to run out on (30th November 2017, 29th October 2017 and 29th October 2017 respectively)

While Richard Byarugaba’s and Wabwire’s contracts were recommended for renewal Geraldine Busulwa’s was not recommended.

The NSSF board has 9 members. Out of the 7 who attended the meeting that ‘fired” Geraldine, 6 voted against her and only 1 voted in her favor.

In a letter dated September 26th, 2017 addressed to the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija,   the NSSF Board Patrick Byabakama  Kabarenge noted that  Ssali  be allowed to exit from the Fund because her performance over the last  three years has been just ‘good enough’.

The Board Chairman noted that she had performed between A and C even though she contests that assessment for some period and most of it was alluded to the good performance of her direct subordinates.

The board also notes that, “her character has been abrasive as evidenced by various caution letters in her file.  “The relationship between her and the Managing Director has been disconcerting and not good to the Funds reputation.

Various attempts to intermediate between the two offices have come to Nil,” the board noted.

The board also noted that the Ssali’s three years at the Fund had been characterized by issues pertaining to personal conduct or rather misconduct She routinely ignored the authority of both the board and her line manager, her disciplinary conduct and personal judgment was lacking that necessitated caution for reckless communication attributed to her, raising false allegations against the fund to PPDA and the board and clandestinely attempting to obstruct disciplinary proceedings against a staff member.

Ssali was appointed a deputy MD of NSSF by the Ministry of Finance on a three year contract which came into effect on October 28th, 2014. Her contract expires on October 29th 2017.

NSSF’s ‎Head of Marketing and Communications, Barbara Arimis said: The Board has a mandate to make performance-based recommendations on the renewal and or non-renewal of contracts of the three statutory appointees (Managing Director, Deputy Managing Director and Corporation Secretary).

Ssali “has during the contract period had issues touching on her disciplinary conduct and judgment, issues which have necessitated issuing her with letters of caution. On June 6th 2016, she was issued with caution letter to refrain from reckless behavior regarding the Funds business after various accusations attributed to her were carried in a newspaper article dated May 17th2017 regarding her relations with the Managing Director.”

The SACA report also indicates that on November 16th, 2016 Ssali, “was issued a caution letter by the Board for raising false allegations against the Fund, to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority ( PPDA) and the Board Chairman, in total disregard of internal processes. She falsely alleged that the contract for the renewal for Security and K-9 services were done irregularly. This was thoroughly investigated and it was established that her allegations were false and baseless. This poor judgment on her part unduly hurt the Fund’s public image and undermined confidence in the Funds policies and processes.”

The board further recommended that the position of the Deputy Managing Director be filled internally as there are officers who could competently occupy this strategic position.

“One officer should immediately run the office in an acting capacity as the Board Chairman consults the Minister for a formal appointment from the appointing authority. As a last-gap measure the Board should be allowed to appoint the Deputy MD.”

Geraldine responds

Knows as a fighter Ssali in an interview with an online media outlet was quoted dismissing the board’s recommendation as inconsequential.  “The board doesn’t make such decisions. It is not the first time the board has made such a pronouncement; but ultimately this is the minister’s decision to make and that is what we should all wait for,” she said.

Geraldine further said that her “performance speaks for itself. I have been way up there.”

“When I was acting (MD); that was the highest statistics we have ever had. We hit the UGX 5 trillion mark (in NSSF assets); we exceeded 13 percent (in customers’ interest); I put UGX 272 billion aside in surplus, and that was the highest ever; I made the highest profit of UGX 850billion for the Fund.”

Geraldine refers to the period between December 2013 to September 2014 when she was Acting Managing Director, before Richard Byarugaba bounced back as Managing Director.

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  • Wante Martino

    Sees there is more behind this “Sacking” than meets the eye!