By Our Reporter
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] The Confederation of Free Trade Unions (COFTU) has described the report by the select committee of parliament probing the “rot'” in National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as ‘Harsh’ to the workers.
Addressing the media after along spell of silence, the COFTU Chairman General John Oketcho Siel said the report released by Parliament headed by Mbarara City South Legislator Hon Mwine Mpaka was one sided. “We, as COFTU cant be party to a report by parliament that is conflicted, prejudiced and biased,” said Oketcho at their Ntinda based offices.
Sided by leading chairpersons of the 11 Affiliate Unions to COFTU Oketcho said his Secretary General Hon Dr. Sam Lyomoki was being witch -hunted for whistle-blowing the corruption at NSSF. “You cant wait for Dr. Lyomoki to complain about the rot at NSSF, investigations are directed by H.E the President, and you don’t give him (the whistle blower) an opportunity to say something.
Oketcho said when they appeared at Parliament to have a say, they were harrased, intimidated and labelled “rebels”. “Mark you it is Hon Lyomoki who pushed for the NSSF Mid term access. You cant turn-around and say he doesn’t wish well for workers,” said Oketcho.
COFTU Has One Faction
Pushed to comment about the recent Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting that sat on March 4th 2023 at Twins Hotel in Makerere leading to the sacking of Dr. Sam Lyomoki as the Secretary General, Oketcho said there are no factions in COFTU. “What we have is power struggle and in fighting among a few individuals. They cant have any powers what-so-ever to call a CEC meeting and to sack the General Secretary. If they are in power where is their COFTU Offices? Why are we addressing you from here?”
Oketcho explained that in 2015 COFTU held elections and he won Milton Turyamureeba with a huge margin of votes. “I got 184 votes against his 17 votes. He cant turn around and say he was duly elected. And why does this issue of his being Chairman General come up when we are sorting the NSSF mess?” he queried.
Going forward, he said a special committee void of all parties engaged in the wrangles has been set up to sort out the individuals power struggle within COFTU.
“We are one as COFTU, just a few individuals called that CEC meeting, all the 11 Affiliates are still with us and they are ably presented in this press conference today. The committee put in place will sort the individual differences between Milton, Wanyama and others,” he said.
He acknowledged that COFTU did get the UGx100 million that was used for various activities including upping the financial literacy campaign across Uganda. “Dr Lyomoki as Secretary General didn’t use the shs100m to buy suits, or drink tea, so he cant refund that money as an individual. What they can ask us is the accountability, that we have regarding the usage of that money.”. He said the activities were geared towards increasing the NSSF funding members from the current 1.3 million to target the existing 7 million workers.
“If just 1.3m workers are contributing Ugx 17 trillion, what if we recruit all the 7 million workers, how much shall we we save in NSSF? This is what the shs6billion requested by Minister Among was meant to be used for,” he explained. He said as COFTU they were behind the actions of Gender Minister Hon Among whom he said had a heart for workers. He thanked President Museveni for appointing Hon Betty Amongi as Minister for Gender Labor and Social Development
Gerald Evans Mutesasira Kaganiizo, from the Uganda Liberal Teachers Union (ULITU) didn’t have kind words for the parliamentary committee.
“Initially there was an arrangement of a Tripartite system, Workers, Government and Employers. We, as workers shall not allow to be sidelined yet it is the workers cash that we are fighting to protect. We have all the reason to make noise and to be included in the board of NSSF as representative of workers in this country,” said Kaganiizo. He said the plans by some sinister individuals to create a parallel National Workers Political party wont be an easy walk in the park.