Every word that comes out of the city advocate, soldier and academician, Dr Alex Bashasha is calculated. Little wonder he rarely does media interviews.
When he grants one, the interviewer must resist the temptation of being lectured to throughout.
You just do not want him to pause when he is articulating national and global issues with precision.
During the interview at his Kadi House offices in Kibuli, his military intelligence background occassionally comes to the fore - taking a long gaze at me and scanning my next move. The legal facet then surfaces when he disarms me with his to-the-point answers to every query. The lecture in him caps it up by offering a remedy to every challenge he states.
Who is Dr Bashasha?
Dr Bashasha is a native of Nyantimbo, Rugarama Sub-county, Rubaare, Ntugamo District. He joined military service in 1979 at Kyamate then fighting under Museveni’s Fronasa to topple the then President ldi Amin. He was a kadogo (child soldier). “After the fall of Kampala and subsequent confusion I went into concealment until I joined Museveni (in the liberation war against the then President Obote) again when the forces were in the western axis,” he reminisces.
After the capture of Kampala by NRA in 1986, Dr Bashasha worked in many positions in the army such as intelligence, finance and legal services, where he retired.
Taking to the chambers
From the frightening sound of guns and bombs, Dr Bashasha took a sharp turn to the world of academics-the challenging Law practice to be exact.
Dr Bashasha is a holder of Bachelor of Laws, Master of Arts, Master of Laws, post graduate diploma in legal practice at LDC. He also holds a Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Business Management and Leadership as well as various post-doctoral studies in cyber security and Intelligence, High Impact leadership and Executive Leadership form UK and US respectively.
His expansive and neat office space coupled with the elegant demeanour with which he carries himself around, says everything about the academic and security expert.
Until he retired 10 years ago, his Bashasha and Company Advocates law firm has been a household name in the legal field categorically outstanding in class action matters. “I pursued legal practice until 10 years ago when I retired from active legal work into consultancy, business and security. I do not miss the law firm because I keep interacting with my firm members. Five of my children are also lawyers and are associated with the firm. I lecture political science and constitutional law in one of the universities outside Uganda. I have examined one of the prominent leaders in the region that was pursuing a Post Graduate studies in Political Science,” says Dr Bashasha.
In August, he was awarded a doctorate in business management and leadership at a world conference held in Abuja, Nigeria (Honaris Cause). There were several participants globally, from India, Asia and the Middle East among others.
When a phone call came through two weeks ago inviting Dr Bashasha for a conference in Abuja-Nigeria, he took it for his usual academic excursions abroad.
He was excited to have been chosen to participate in the world conference at a global event and subsequently received three outstanding awards that included a doctorate.
The organisers in Geneva School of Business explained that due to Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that most of the awardees were from West Africa, they chose to host the event in Abuja, where they could coordinate with other participating invitees from other countries via zoom. Among the prominent personalities associated with the Unicarribean Business School (SSBM) are former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo and businessman Aliko Dangote.
Every warrior has a tale to tell after their war nightmare. Dr Bashasha had braved through the Idi Amin downfall crossfire and had participated in the NRA bush war.
In 1987, he stared at death in the eyes when Alice Lakwena’s troops, overrun Lira barracks and killed his colleagues with bullets and bayonets. “I do not know how I survived because I remained in the killing site alone. By God’s luck, there was reinforcement from Kitgum commanded by Maj. Godfrey Sikagi, which recaptured the barracks. I was the only survivor in that section and I am alive to testify God’s goodness. The Sikagi group had come to Lira to collect supplies from Kitgum.
Those days, they would move on foot, by coincidence, they found the battle raging on,” he recounts.
UEB make or break case
To become the king of torts, any lawyer has to present that ground breaking case he presided over. Without doubt, Dr Bashasha was to class action litigation what Macdusman Kabega is to criminal law and corruption cases. Distinguished legal minds in their respective realms of specialty.
“I experienced a lot of challenges in my legal practice especially in class action matters. I supported many workers. Handling group action is very complicated. There are many interests at stake. Some people break up at the execution stage and run to the other law firms setting lawyers against each other,” Dr Bashasha opens up. He reveals that in Uganda, he has come to realise, that when you win a big case, it becomes political and that sometimes you may regret why the law firm won the case.
Flipping through a catalogue of successful litigations, he made as an active lawyers, Dr Bashasha finds utmost pride in the landmark defunct Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) vs Successor companies and Attorney General.
“In what came to be known as the Paul Nyamarere vs UEB and Attorney General case against successor companies, government paid out more than Shs60bn to former employees of UEB. We resolved that Government pays them directly to avoid chaos and intrigue. Certain law firms got themselves involved in the case at the execution stage but were thrown out by court.
A few employees filed case against their leaders and the case was dismissed but our satisfaction is that these workers reinvented themselves and even today they are entitled to monthly pension. These are people that had been deleted from the register. I am proud of that. They were reinstated on the pension register,” says Dr Bashasha.
Quest for knowledge
In his leisure time, Dr Bashasha engages into rotary work at Muyenga Rotary club. He is now at the major donor level 4. He explains that these interactions are resources of beneficial knowledge. He finds teaching as another hobby that comes along with an obsession to read books. His late father was a teacher and he has developed that passion. He enjoyed seeing his father on a black board. “The more you study the more you realise you know less. It is my passion, I want to read because am inquisitive. I have formed a think-tank consultancy that advises on elections, governance issues, politics, law, business and security. I am glad that I have achieved global recognition and awards. My colleagues and I have established an office near American Embassy, Nsambya known as TUBUKEN,” purely for consultancy.
Nurturing ministers, MPs
He needed to develop a thick skin to resist the allure of joining the murky waters of politics.
“I always prefer to stand at the edge. I’m a political consultant who doesn’t want to directly engage in murky politics. It would have distracted me from obtaining more knowledge that I have gained by reading widely about politics. The current politics is full of neopatrimonalism and clientilism that sometimes that is why some politicians have called it A DIRTY GAME.”
“Some people coerced me to stand for political positions but I declined because I’m a politician but not a political actor. I have inspired and offered consultancy to many current and former government Ministers and MPs. Some of my former secretaries are now MPs. I want to stick to consultancy and security and I am comfortable with that.”
As a political consultant, Dr Bashasha believes that Parliament is doing some good work.
“I think they are doing some good work. But democracy requires a strong opposition. The UK is a strong democracy because of a strong opposition. The government leaning and opposition MPs in Uganda need to work in tandem to ensure that democracy is observed. Once people do not see it, they force it to be seen. A good example is what happened to Ivory Coast Parliament due to lack of Parliamentary Democracy Political participation, people rose up and destroyed parliament,” says Dr Bashasha.
Burning the midnight oil
For the multifaceted soul he is, Dr Bashasha is in pole position to pen five top seller books. “At the moment, I’m writing a book titled ‘My Life Story in the Military Service’. I am also working on a business oriented manual called ‘Managing Consultancies in Business Administration’. The third book will ultimately come from the legal world-Constitutional law without constitutionalism in a Neo-colonial African State.”
This he says with emphasis, is driven by the urge to inform people that confuse constitutional law and constitutionalism and it will expound on why there are many constitutions without constitutionalism.