KAMPALA – Delegates representing designated Muslim regions of Uganda assemble in Kampala this Saturday to particularly choose new leaders following the expiry of term of office for the current top officials, and enactment of a new constitution.
The country’s Muslims community have two apex administrations – as Mufti Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje heads the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council – UMSC headquarters, while recently appointed Sheikh Muhammad Galabuzi leads the Kibuli based group.
The Kibuli clique ‘was created’ after sharp misunderstandings relating to the mismanagement of various Muslim properties in Kampala where tycoon Haj Hassan Basajjabalaba’s name, prominently featured.
It’s believed that Basajjabalaba – who was the UMSC national chairman until 2010 when he fell-out with the Mubajje administration, reportedly due to allegations of misuse of office, had plotted to ‘overthrow’ the Mufti.
Although Basajjabalaba fired the first shot by attempting to suspend the Mufti for ‘conducting himself in a manner that is not befitting the Islamic principles,’ Sheikh Mubaje outsmarted him through the mobilisation of members of the joint session – the committee bringing together members of the national executive and college of sheikhs.
Basajjabalaba was formally suspended for allegedly failing to finish the UMSC perimeter-shopping complex project at Old Kampala. Dr. Abdulkadir Baronde was later chosen to succeed him, but he passed away in 2020, leaving his deputy, Abdul Nadduli, in charge until recently.
“At that time, the Kampala International University – (KIU) proprietor had only occupied the office of national chairman at Old Kampala for a few months. But many things were going his way. He orchestrated ‘deals’ on behalf of Muslims – yet the benefits ended up into his pockets….,” recalled of the delegates.
It’s upon such a background that questions were flying how Haj Basajjabalaba was nominated as a candidate for the position of national chairman in this Saturday’s election.
But available records at the UMSC’s Independent Electoral Commission show that Bassajabalaba – a well-known shrewd businessman, was nominated in absentia – going through unopposed; alongside three others, including Sheikh Kassim Kamugisha – the Deputy RCC – Nakawa division in his Bushenyi Mosque at the grassroots level.
On Friday, several delegates were secretly discussing Bassajabalaba’s eligibility to be in the race.
“Is Bassajabalaba qualified to compete if we follow the constitution,?” one of the delegates was heard, whispering at Old Kampala – the seat of UMSC but none could allow to be on record.
Many argued that the recently updated UMSC Constitution forbids dented persons from holding certain offices, including the chairmanship.
“It is a big issue and I think it will be a source of pandemonium before the election,” a delegate said, insisting that Haj Bassajabalaba wasn’t eligible to contest under the UMSC constitution.
Article 4 of the UMSC Constitution states that for one to stand for the office of chairman and vice, they must be nonpartisan and not holding any political office in Uganda; not convicted of any criminal charge under the laws of Uganda or not to have been successfully impeached by the UMSC at any time.
Many delegates contend that Basajjabalaba is partisan given the fact that he is the Bushenyi district NRM chairman.
Abubaker Were Wadangho – the Deputy Chairperson of the UMSC Electoral Commission said that although the commission had heard rumours concerning Basajjabalaba’s eligibility, no tangible evidence had been lodged.
Wadangho noted that in the opinion of the commission – Basajjabalaba was duly nominated and may only be disqualified from the exercise when proof that he lacks the necessary qualifications is provided.
Haj Basajjabalaba declined to comment, claiming he had a busy schedule – especially in regard to soliciting for votes.
Apart from the post of chairman, the delegates will also elect the deputy chairperson, where five people including; Muzamil Abona, Ismail Kyoma, Prof Edris Kasenene, Yunus Mugaba and Sinan Ganatusanga have been nominated to contest for this post.
Wadangho said delegates will also elect the chairpersons, Deputies, and treasurers of the Uganda Muslim National Women and Youth Councils.
The General Assembly is UMSC’s apex decision-making body.