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    National

    High Court Dismisses Richard Byarugaba's Case Against NSSF Contract Non-Renewal

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    High Court Dismisses Richard Byarugaba's Case Against NSSF Contract Non-Renewal
    • April 20, 2024 • 1 month ago
    in summary
    The High Court has dismissed a case brought forward by the former Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Richard Byarugaba, challenging the decision not to renew his contract

    The High Court has dismissed a case brought forward by the former Managing Director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Richard Byarugaba, challenging the decision not to renew his contract. Civil Division Justice Musa Ssekaana dismissed the case, stating that the decision by the Minister of Labour and Gender, Betty Among, to reject Byarugaba's reappointment was within the law, and there was no irrationality in the decision-making process.

    Byarugaba had filed a petition against the Attorney General and Minister Among in August 2023, seeking court orders for Among to fulfill her statutory duties and complete his reappointment as the NSSF MD, as recommended by the board and required by the law. Byarugaba argued that there were procedural irregularities in the decision leading to the minister's rejection of the board's recommendation for his reappointment. He claimed there was a violation of his legitimate expectations by not affording him a fair hearing.

    Furthermore, Byarugaba argued that his successor, Patrick Ayota, was not fit to head NSSF, and consequently added Ayota to the list of respondents. Byarugaba had served as the NSSF MD since August 1, 2010, and his second appointment, which began on November 29, 2017, expired on November 30, 2022.

    Despite the NSSF board of directors recommending the renewal of both Byarugaba's and Ayota's contracts, Among renewed only Ayota's contract, citing various allegations against Byarugaba, including financial impropriety, collusion with contractors, defiance of presidential directives, and corruption.

    Byarugaba argued that Amongi's decision not to renew his contract was illegal, irrational, and procedurally incorrect, especially after he was cleared of financial impropriety allegations by a parliamentary select committee in February 2023 and by the Inspector General of Government.

    During the court proceedings, Byarugaba asked to amend his petition to include Ayota as the third respondent to allow him a fair hearing and to defend himself over the allegations. The court granted his application, and Ayota was consequently added as the third respondent.

    After being listed as a respondent, Ayota filed a 38-page affidavit defending himself against Byarugaba's allegations, asserting that he had all the requisite competencies and work experience to serve as the managing director of NSSF. He argued that Byarugaba's appointment should not be granted, as it would create a leadership vacuum that could jeopardize the stability of the fund.

    In his ruling, Justice Ssekaana dismissed Byarugaba's application, stating that the minister's decision was within the law and that demanding a hearing before the minister can exercise any discretion to appoint would be an absurdity. He further ruled that Byarugaba had not proved to the court that there was bias or breach of the rules of natural justice.

    Ssekaana emphasized that Byarugaba was investigated by separate organs, including parliament and the Inspector General of Government, not at the instigation of Minister Among, but rather based on the statutory and constitutional mandate of different government agencies. He concluded that the decision to challenge Ayota's appointment by Amongi cannot be successfully challenged without the board being a party to the proceedings.

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