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    Bitature Can Now Drink Glass Of Water: Court Of Appeal Stops Money Lender From Auctioning His Multi-Billion Properties…

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    Tycoon Patrick Bitature

    Controversial city businessman Patrick Bitature can now relax and sip glass of water after Court of Appeal judge, Justice Christopher Gashirabake gave him a protective order stopping Vantage Capital agents from selling his properties.

    In his ruling, Justice Gashirabake noted that there is a real threat of selling Bitature’s properties by the agents of Vantage Capital led city lawyer Robert Kirunda of M/S Kirunda Wasige Advocates, Festus Kateregga, a city Court Bailiff  and Commissioner Land Registration.

    “After carefully listening to the submissions of both counsels, I am convinced that Rule 2(2) of the Judicature (Court of Appeal Rules), Directions S1,13,10 empowers this Court to make orders of Court where it is evident that there is a threat or eminent danger of the sale of the properties.

    “There is a copy of the daily monitor of Wednesday May 18, 2022 attached as annexure B to the application. If indeed as the counsel for the respondents submitted that there is no threat or imminent danger of the sale of the properties, why would the advert in Daily Monitor be placed in the newspaper? (And why hasn’t) the advert been withdrawn? Is a prudent person supposed to ignore the advert or offer to buy the properties?” the judge stated.

    He explained that Bitature’s application seeking for a protective order is not meant to stop or interfere with the ongoing arbitration, but what he wants is to protect his properties which are still a subject of arbitration.

    The judge directed Vantage Capitals never to advertise or try to sell Bitature’s properties until the determination of the main suit in the United Kingdom.

    Bitature, through his lawyers led by Fred Muwema, ran to the Court of Appeal after Justice Stephen Mubiru, of the High Court Commercial Division, dismissed his application where he wanted to stop Vantage Capital agents from selling his properties.

    Bitature’s properties which were under threat included: Elizabeth Apartments at Kololo Kampala, Protea Hotel at Naguru Kampala, Sky Hotels at Kampala, Moyo Close Apartments and Kololo Gardens, which he mortgaged to get loan from Vantage Capitals.

    In 2014, Bitature obtained a $10m loan from Vantage Capitals, a South Africa money lending company.

    Vantage claims that if they add interest, they now demand $32m from Bitature through his companies, Simba Properties Investments Company Limited and Simba Telecom Limited.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Corruption, Infighting Cited In Firing Of Top UETCL Bosses, Some To Face Investigation…

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    Mr. Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman and some of the UETCL staff

    Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) has fired the company’s top bosses.

    On 10th August 2022, Kwame Ejalu, the UETCL board chairman issued a memo to staff communicating changes which were to take immediate effect among top managers of the company.

    He stated, “The Board of Directors of the UETCL, in exercise of its mandate, has made some changes at the company’s top management level, re-engineering all its business processes therein with immediate effect.

    “This exercise is an inevitable phenomenon in the company’s life, driven by rationality of efficiency, allowing for maximisation of wanted benefits in developing a good corporate governance culture at the company in the interest of its shareholders.”

    Among the affected company bosses include; George Rwabajungu (Managing Director) who has been replace with Michael Taremwa Kananura who has been the company’s manager for finance, accounts and sales in the Acting capacity; Richard Matsiko, who has been the company’s operations and maintenance manager has been appointed as the Acting deputy Managing Director replacing Valentine Katabira; Daniel Kisira, who has been the company’s principle planning and investment officer who has been appointed in Acting capacity has the Implementation manager replacing Eng. William Nkemba; Karim Abdul Jumbo has been appointed in Acting capacity as the manager for information, communication and technology and Denis Okot has been appointed as the company’s manager in Acting capacity as the operations and maintenance manager.

    Sources at UETCL told theGrapevine that the line ministers Ruth Nakabirwa Ssentamu, the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development together with Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Investment directed Ejalu to fight corruption and internal infighting within the company to save its image.

    “Your predecessors failed in teamwork, integrity and respect for one another, which are UETCL’s core values. There were so many issues of corruption,” Anite said.

    Sources further revealed that when Ejalu started his work, a number of UETCL bosses started fighting him after he asked them how the process of land acquisition for the coming projects such as transmission lines and substations was done.

    The parliamentary committee on natural resources is also investigating the alleged corruption and infighting within the company.

    Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Commission of Inquiry into land matters established that UETCL bosses were involved in corruption during the acquisition of land to establish projects around the country.

    In their report, the commission members recommended prosecution of the culprits.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Dott Services In Trouble As DRC Officials Confiscate Road Construction Equipment; Tshisekedi’s Men Sabotage Shs.243.7bn Deal…

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    Presidents Museveni and his DRC counterpart Tshisekedi preside over groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of roads in DR. Congo

    State minister for the East African Community Affairs James Magode Ikuya has confirmed that the government of Uganda is in high level talks with officials from President Felix Tshisekedi over the Shs243.7bn road construction deal signed with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2020.

    Speaking to theGrapevine, Minister Magoda revealed that they have received a complaint from Dott Services Company which was contracted to construct roads from Kasindi-Beni, Kasindi-Butembo Axis and Bunagana-Rutshuru-Goma road projects.

    “You know when you’re talking to people, especially brothers, you have to use soft means, we are also using soft means to talk to our friends from Kishasha to do what was agreed in the agreement signed by our principles,” Ikuya said.

    Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that a team of officials from DRC were recently in Kampala for talks on how the agreement can be fulfilled and pleaded to Ugandans to be calm.

    He added that the Ugandan ambassador to DRC is also following the matter and very soon, it will be sorted out.

    Sources in Dott Services Limited revealed to theGrapevine that officials from DRC tax collecting body confiscated their equipment which included; excavators, tractors, rollers, cement and others on grounds that the company didn’t pay taxes to the DRC government.

    Sources in the Attorney General’s chambers also told theGrapevine that it was clear in the agreement signed by both principles and line ministers that Uganda will not pay taxes for the equipment and other material goods which will be used in the construction of the roads.

    In 2021, president Museveni and Tshisekedi made a groundbreaking ceremony at  Mpondwe on the border of both countries.

    Museveni pleaded to natives in both countries to welcome the development because it was going to ease trade among them and the entire East African countries.

    Sources revealed that president Museveni was more interested in the road construction and it was the very reason why he deployed UPDF to work with DRC forces to force the deadly ADF rebels out of DRC forests because he was very aware that their presence will frustrate the construction of the roads.

    The UPDF mountain Brigade commander Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga boasted that UPDF has slashed ADF out of their hidding camps and many of them are now fugitives.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    Court Of Appeal Cancels High Court Order Directing NSSF To Refund Shs. 14 billion To UTL…

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    NSSF Managing Director Richard Byaruhanga

    Court of Appeal has cancelled an order of the High Court directing National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to return Shs. 14 billion of the 10% employer contribution for over 900 employees of Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).

    In 2015, Uganda Telecom (UTL) top management and NSSF were sued by UTL employees as they tried to scheme and get back retirement benefits of 1,986 employees from NSSF.

    In a February 6th letter to UTL, then managing director Ali Amir and the then NSSF deputy managing director Geraldine Ssali indicated that the Workers Fund was moving to return an unspecified amount of money to the workers, but without the knowledge of the beneficiaries.

    The letter explained that the first batch, according to UTL records, was covered for 16 years regarding the matter on hand. The number, however, grew to 1,968 employees.

    The letter read in part, “UTL’s management said they had been remitting money to NSSF in error. The regulator of both NSSF and the pensions scheme Uganda Retirements Benefits Regulatory Authority (UBRA) acting boss Moses Bekabye, said the matter had been brought to their attention and a legal team was assigned to examine its contents.”

    According to Daily Monitor in 2015, prior to the writing of the letter, officials from both UTL and NSSF met on February 4th and discussed the status of the claim but the workers, some employed with UPTCL’s successor companies namely Uganda Communications Commission, Posta and Post Bank, said they had been kept in the dark about the deal.

    The Uganda Communications Employees Union, therefore, sued both the Fund and UTL in the industrial Court challenging any refund of the contributions. They secured a temporary injunction blocking any payment.

    Before the case in the industrial court could be determined, UTL filed an application for judicial review in the High Court, seeking an order to compel the fund to refund Shs. 14 billion, and obtained judgements in its favour.

    Following a ruling in May 2016, in which High Court Judge Lydia Mugambe ordered NSSF to pay the contested sum to UTL, the Fund sought permission to appeal, leading to the two parties entering a “consent to stay execution” on May 27, 2016.

    According to the consent, NSSF was to be allowed to appeal the ruling, but after depositing bank guarantees with the court to the tune of the contested sum.

    NSSF would also provide UTL with a certificate of compliance showing that the telecom company had paid up its contributions to the Fund, whose absence UTL said was precluding it from competing for public contracts.

    “When NSSF was required to issue bank guarantees and a certificate of compliance, they issued documents that were defective. This was in contravention of the agreement we had with them when they were granted the right to appeal,” Mr Andrew Kibaya, a lawyer for UTL lawyers Shonubi noted.

    This week however, three justices of the Court of Appeal who included Cheborion Barishaki, Stephen Musota and Christopher Madrama cancelled the High Court decision insisting that UTL’s application in the High Court was wrongly instituted as an application for judicial review yet it instead challenged the correctness of the Fund’s decision to collect statutory contributions from certain UTL employees.

    Speaking about the ruling, Richard Byaruhanga, the NSSF Managing Director, contended that this was a win to the UTL workers and the fund.

    He said, “We welcome the Court of Appeal’s judgement because it affirms our position that once contributions are remitted to the Fund, they belong to the employee for whom they have been paid.

    “Regarding this particular case, we are confident that as an employer, UTL errored in seeking a refund of the employer contributions on the basis of an alleged exemption.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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