Jesus Christ was and is still to this day and age, divinely in nature. This can be validated by Jesus’ wise discourses which have reigned high for many years following his resurrection and ascension to heaven.
In one of such many timeless sermons, Jesus Christ speaks highly about the beauty of the warring parties resolving their own differences as opposed to washing their dirty linen there before the public courts of law.
Jesus Christ justifies himself by observing how on receipt of the complaint, the judge would go ahead and hear the case and then, use the law to decide the complaint in favor of either of the two warring parties.
That having been said and done, the judge would go ahead and invite the loser to face the ominous consequences of his or her folly.
Simply put, Jesus was cautioning us about the fact that the law is double edged and being so, you never know who of the two using it to stab the other, can end up stabbing.
Retired Justice James Ogoola Munange was an immensely devout man and this is why regardless of the fact that he was a highly lettered man, he encouraged and even established at the commercial division of the high court, an arbitration section for the purpose of resolving business conflicts without recourse to litigation.
“The legal process is like a pregnancy. You can never be sure of the health status of the baby not after until it has been born,” the famous wordsmith often said.
The fact that businessman Patrick Baguma Bitature is a practicing catholic, yours truly can’t state emphatically that the reverse is true in the case of the South Africans guys pursuing the Ugandan to recover from him a total of thirty millions USA dollars.
But am familiar with the story regarding the 10 million US dollars Bitature picked from the South Africans in 2014 and the debt has since grown to million US dollars on account of non-payment and luckily enough, Bitature doesn’t disagree with the fact that took the funds from the South Africans transacting as Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership.
He even states how he is willing to refund whatever is due and owing as long as the lenders are also willing to play by the rules of engagement.
The rules of engagement which Bitature is apparently drawing our attention to, is the process of arbitration and the instant borrower on their own volition wrote an agreement anticipating a fall-out.
The duo agreed to negotiate a way out of such a fall-out in the event it ended up happening.
Credibly, they picked a neutral ground where they are supposed to pqhold their matters in the manner they clearly agreed to in black and white and that ground is London yet they are here in Uganda, and moreover in courts of law, stabbing each other and one can wonder about how they ended up in the Ugandan courts.
It all started with the South Africans dispatching a demand notice to Bitature in 2019 and the lenders were giving Bitature a deadline of thirty days to mobilize the thirty million dollars and hand the funds to them or else, the lenders vowed, to seize Bitature’s entire business empire.
In rejoinder, Bitature asked his financers to stick to the letter and spirit of the agreement which they had reasoned and entered together and he also told the South Africans how he had invested the funds in anticipation of getting it back when Uganda’s oil had started sprouting out of the soil.
As he was still agonizing over the late arrival of oil, Bitature told his financers, how the Covid-19 scourge then paid a rude visit and hence complicating the matters for the businesspeople across the globe.
But then again, the South Africans kept on and on hounding Bitature and they would aggravate these matters by threatening to cause a transfer of the securities the borrower had pledged to them in their favor and then sell them off.
Bitature now knew clearly how his mught had been roasted and what was being awaited for now, was to serve it wholly to the South Africans and this is how he also trotted to the Ugandan court to stop the accident that was waiting to happen.
However, Justice Boniface Wamala based at the commercial section of the high court, told the parties to march off to arbitration to which they had agreed during the negotiation and actual issuance of the loan sums.
The South Africans, apparently driven on by the desire to recover their money and in light of the ongoing arbitration process, moved to the registrar of companies in Uganda and asked him to alter Bitature’s security to them.
The lender’s luck would run out when Bitature discovered what was going on and sent his lawyers to remind the registrar of companies about the arbitration which the South Africans had now skipped and were now eyeing to grab his empire.
The registrar who had actually heard the application by now and was only reserving the ruling, went on and accepted to throw the application on the shelves to gather dust.
This move angered the lenders and this is how they ended up appealing against it expecting relief from Justice Musa Ssekaana, but the judge ended up nailing them further and chased them away and stated he could not help them since they chose to do business with Bitature in breach of the law.
By this he meant, the Southern Africans didn’t register with the registrar of companies prior to carrying out business with Bitature.
Other than providing comfort to Bitature, the ruling on the contrary, brought much torment to the businessman and Ugandans quickly took to social media and dismissed the ruling as a license to the borrowers to avoid liability and some of them even dared the victorious party to ignore the ruling and go ahead and clear the debt.
The South Africans in spite of the fact that they had appealed the ruling and in light of the fact that the arbitration was also still on, instructed their lawyers to run an advert calling for prospective buyers of Bitature’s properties.
Bitature was alarmed and he instructed his own lawyers to hit back and the lawyers issued a statement complete with Ssekaana’s ruling to dispel the advert as being a farce arguing that the ruling had rendered dead the firm in which the South Africans issued the loans and as such, the lawyers educated, such a dead entity, were no longer vested with legal powers to sue let alone to be sued.
Apart from the above, the lawyers threatened to sue the opposite lawyers and the court bailiff himself for contempt of court via advertising the client’s property and they were asking for a full page newspaper apology dictated by themselves plus a total of US 1m dollars compensation to let the issue abate.
The South Africans also weighed in and they issued a statement vowing to receive back what is due to them by hook or crook and meanwhile, the social media had by now added the lawyers to Bitature and went on to insult them using all the derogatory terms you can imagine of.
Undeterred, Bitature lawyer, Fred Muwema went ahead and gave an interview where he stated that his client’s court victory was not a one-off and gave a reference of the case of Sudhir Ruparelia against Bank of Uganda plus that of Ham Kiggundu and Diamond Trust Bank, to make a case that the courts of law had previously used similar laws to declare loans duly received to be invalid.
Muwwma also revealed how the South Africans agreed to abide by the fact that there was a senior financer who would take precedence over them but who have never gone ahead to exercise his right of placing a charge on the securities.
He then wondered how the junior financer who moreover made the commitment stated above could go ahead and place a charge on the securities.
As the two waited, another judge, Stephen Mubiru joined and would end up by declaring Bitature a candidate of private criminal prosecution against Muwema’s protest application
The judge, using very sharp words bordering on extremism, even went ahead and unusually ordered Muwema to meet the costs of the application on behalf of the client meaning that the case had now gone through three hands, from Boniface Wamala, Musa Ssekaana to Stephen Mubiru, yet it was only a matter of time before it could end before another judicial officer in a magistrates’ court and all this was happening in light of the fact that there was also another arbitration process in London!
Since we hit the road with the sermon of Jesus regarding reconciliation, its prudent that Bitatire and his financers to calm down and do what Jesus’ sermon educates us to do when we find ourselves in the mess the two parties are into.
A lot of money, ounces of energy and good Public Relations have been lost simply because the warring parties cannot reason together about how to amicably resolve their own differences.
The strangers ranging from lawyers, judges, bailiffs and social media judges cannot offer conclusive justice to each of the two warring parties and themselves alone can negotiate the justice they want.
In any case, they chose to resolve the matter in London, let them go ahead and do that as per Jesus’ counsel, if they would love to do business in future, they need to look more at what unites them than what divides them.
The bickering, are exposing them as unreasonable people incapable of figuring out the fact that money lenders require borrowers to do business and vice versa and in order to hold positive negotiations, the parties would need to embrace the principle of give and take and more importantly, let bygones be bygones.