Connect with us
  • MY MONEY

    MY TRUTH: Why I Have Failed To Pay South African Money Lender – Bitature Gives His Side Of The Story….

    Published

    on

    Businessman Patrick Bitature

    Businessman Patrick Bitature, the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Simba Group East Africa has finally given his side of the story in the battle to repay USD 10 million loan he got from Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership in 2014.

    Below is his statement verbatim:

    Greetings from Simba Croup,

    The last few days have been quite challenging on me, family, colleagues, business partners, staff, and other Simba Group stakeholders. Ugandan media has recently been awash news reports about members of the Simba Group. These attacks against Simba Group are an affront to our economic prospects as they inhibit the capacity of local entrepreneurs to exploit local and international opportunities.

    Whilst I may be mindful of the fact that certain aspects of this matter are still pending in the courts and/or dispute resolution avenues, I have after careful reflection, elected to share this statement with you.

    The statement is issued without prejudice and I will attempt to outline the facts of the matter at hand and trace the genesis of our engagement and apparent disagreement with one of my business partners. This note also serves as a reassurance to all our business partners, affiliates, and stakeholders that I remain committed to bring the issues at hand to a close justly, fairly and as expeditiously as possible.

    The Genesis

    As part of our business expansion plans, Simba approached Vantage Capital in 2014, seeking an alternative to the more common and mainstream pure debt funding for business expansion.

    Consequently, a “Mezzanine Term Facility Agreement” (MTFA) was signed between Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership (“Vantage”) and Simba Properties Investment Company (Simba) for $10,000,000 to fund projects with in the Group.

    These projects included the completion of Protea by Marriott SKYZ Hotel and working capit al for our ElectroMaxx Power subsidiary. The agreement had a 3-year moratorium (freeze) for repayment of both the principal and interest.

    Simba was confident of the economic prospects in the Country as Uganda had discovered 6.5 million barrels of oil reserves. Like many other business players in Uganda, we were expecting an economic upturn, and therefore in line with our innovative plans, ground breaking and forward vision we explored opportunities to generate value in the economy through sustainable investments. As one of the leading Ugandan business Group with a credible track record, we were well-positioned to harness this financing opportunity in order to grow and create more jobs and value for the nation.

    Negotiation

    Following the signing of the Mezzanine facility in 2014, the first repayment was due in 2017. However, due to unforeseen challenges such as the unprecedented delay of the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the oil and gas projects and Vantage’s requirement to us to improve the Hotel’s fire and safety features to internationally benchmarked standards hindered our envisaged projects. We then proactively engaged Vantage and mutually agreed to a further moratorium for two (2) years, thereby mutually agreeing to freeze all payments until December 2019.

    In December 2019, Vantage issued a demand for the principal and interest from 2014 onwards and by early 2020, the said amount had increased.

    With the effects of COVID-19 on the business and the economy, we were once again faced with great business challenges. Vantage, nevertheless, attempted to realise their security over the prime assets of Simba. This was despite my overtures to resolve the issue of the extraordinary acceleration of the interest rate which in real terms is over 35% per annum in USD.

    The intervention of Court was then sought with a bid to secure a determination on several issues. The Court referred the Parties to arbitration at a seat of Vantage’s choosing in accordance with the terms of the MTFA. Vantage chose London as the seat of the Arbitration and filed a Request to Arbitrate at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Simba duly acknowledged and responded to the Request to Arbitrate and continues to participate in this process to date.

    However, notwithstanding the reference to arbitration, Vantage attempted to transfer shares in Simba which they held simply as security. Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) a government body declined to register the transfer of shares and directed Vantage to follow the direction of Court to essentially resolve the issues at arbitration first.

    Vantage being displeased with that decision sought judicial review in the High Court seeking mandamus orders to direct URSB to transfer the shares, a matter which court on the 9th of May 2022 dismissed on t he grounds that they, Vantage, had violated mandatory provisions of t he law under the Partnership Act and the Business Names Registration Act, thereby in effect lacking legal presence to sue or be sued. Despite this ruling, Vantage went on to advertise the Group properties on the 18th of May 2022 in total disregard to the foundation and concerns raised by Court in its decision.

    This inevitably sparked off the mayhem that broke out ail over social media and other news outlets.

    It is worth noting that on the 16th day of May, 2022 only two days before the advert, the same Vantage had lodged a Notice of Appeal against the decision of t he Court. It therefore surprised us that they could not await the results of their own appeal.

    Assurance

    As a business, we are committed to having this business dispute resolved at the earliest

    opportunity. I would like to emphasize that this is a dispute between two business parties.

    May I take this opportunity to reassure our clients and stakeholders and the general public that we w ill continue to operate our businesses and unreservedly serve the nation as we have done for the last 30 (t hirty) years.

    For God and my Country.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

    Comments

    MY MONEY

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

    Published

    on

    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

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    MY MONEY

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

    Published

    on

    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

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    MY MONEY

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

    Published

    on

    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

    Comments

    Continue Reading

    like us

    TRENDING

    theGrapevine is a subsidiary of Newco Publications Limited, a Ugandan multimedia group.
    We keep you posted on the latest from Uganda and the World. COPYRIGHT © 2022
    P.O Box 5511, Kampala - Uganda Tel: +256-752 227640 Email: info@thegrapevine.co.ug
    theGrapevine is licenced by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC)