Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament’s select committee investigating operations of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has handed over the phones of two Fund officials to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) for further inquiries.
The phone of the former NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba and that of Chief Financial Officer, Stevens Mwanje were sent to CID for forensic investigation in regard to a 1.8 billion budget for Corporate Social Investment (CSI).
Mwine Mpaka, the committee chairperson made the directive after the two officials offered contrary statements regarding the formulation and breakdown of the budget. Before the probe into the budget started, the committee learned that one billion Shillings out of the 1.8 billion Shillings budget for Corporate Social Investment (CSI), was allocated to the NSSF board members to increase the relevance of the Fund.
Mpaka tasked Byarugaba to substantiate claims by the NSSF Board that the one billion Shillings budget was his making. According to Mpaka, the Board members told his committee that they did not request the money and that it was brought to them by Byarugaba.
Bwamba County MP Richard Gafabusa also asked how the budget was generated, and to this, Byarugaba said that Corporate Social Investment (CSI) was an idea of the Board and that the breakdown of 1.8 billion was agreed upon in bulk. He further explained that out of the 1.8 billion, 800 million Shillings was identified for workers’ unions to enable them to carry out financial literacy activities.
Mpaka asked the Chief Financial Officer Stevens Mwanje to explain if he had received a directive from Byarugaba to include the said money in the Fund budget. While Mwanje acknowledged the directive, he hastened to add that Byarugaba was equally getting a lot of pressure from ‘above’.
However, Byarugaba insisted that the NSSF finance department generated the breakdown of the one billion Shillings, a statement that prompted MP Mpaka to question whether the Chief Financial Officer was telling lies to the select committee. Byarugaba explained that his role was not to generate the breakdown of the money and that he had received the breakdown via a WhatsApp message from Mwanje.
At this point, the select committee chairperson demanded to view the message on Byarugaba’s mobile phone and he informed the members that on May 4, 2022, at 10:00 pm, Mwanje had sent the breakdown to Byarugaba.
But Mwanje denied knowledge of the message, forcing the select committee to demand that he hands over his phone. After viewing his phone, Mpaka said that Mwanje seemed to have deleted the record between April 30 and May 6, 2022, given that the message is reflected on Byarugaba’s phone.
In response, Mwanje said that financial slides are generated by his team and that he had asked if they generated the same and they denied it.
This forced MP Mpaka to direct officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) attached to the select committee to take the two phones of Byarugaba and Mwanje for forensic examination. Mpaka said that the process was to enable them to determine the source of the message.