High Court dismisses Byarugaba's NSSF job appeal

High Court dismisses Byarugaba's NSSF job appeal
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The High Court has dismissed Richard Byarugaba's appeal challenging the refusal to reapoint him as Managing Director of National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

Mr Byarugaba was in 2022 forced out of the public fund and replaced with his then deputy Patrick Ayote.

The dismissal by Gender, Labour and Social Development minister Betty Amongi riled Mr Byarugaba, who believed he had performed exceptional well enough to keep the job for another five-year tenure.

In running to court, Mr Byarugaba argued that his dismissal, as well as Ayota's appointment, was illegal.

But Judge Musa Ssekaana of the High Court Civil Division on Friday dismissed all his prayers and upheld the decisions of Minister Amongi and the NSSSF Board to appoint Ayota as the MD.

Mr Byarugaba was appointed as NSSF MD since August 1, 2010. His first tenure stretched to November 29, 2017, when he was reappointed.

The second tenure expired on November 30, 2022.

But Byarugaba cried to court of unfair treatment. He said Minister Amongi has attempted to end his second tenure even before the contract could run its course.

The minister had cited retirement age, capped at 60, which Byarugaba has clocked at the time.

While Byarugaba won that first battle to stick to the Shs18 trillion Fund following the intervention of the Attorney General, he invariably ran out of luck and time.

Amongi exercised as discretion to only renew the contract of Ayota and kicked Byarugaba out - even as the board had recommended he, too, gets an extention.

The minister pinned Byarugaba to financial impropriety, collusion with contractors, defiance of presidential directives, and corruption.

Byarugaba ran helter-skelter to save his job, including to the President who, on December 6, 2022, heard his cries and directed Amongi to conclude the matter.

Byarugaba told the court that Amongi's decision not to renew his contract was illegal, irrational, and procedurally incorrect.

However, as the matter was pending in court, Amongi elevated Ayota and appointed him as the managing director of the Fund, leaving Byarugaba in a knot.

Last October, Ayota told the court that his former boss's appeal was flawed and described it as "unmeritorious cries of a single disgruntled person whose recommendation was rejected based on sound, cogent reasons.”

The court, in its ruling, said the minister's rejection of Byarugaba's reappointment was an exercise of discretion which is granted under the law to allow the system of checks and balances in the appointment process.

"The Minister as the appointing authority has some latitude of power to subject recommended persons to scrutiny and or reject the same and direct a fresh process of recruitment as it was done or approve of the recommended persons and effect the appointment'" Judge Ssekaana said.

He also said the court cannot quash the appointment of Ayota because the NSSF board had duly recommended for it.

Judge Ssekaana dismissed the application but spared Byarugaba the costs for his judicial review appeal.

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