MALIK FAHAD JJINGO
MASAKA- Sheik Buruhane Bagunduuse, the Masaka District Khadhi, who was recently suspended over alleged incompetence has refused to hand over office.
The Secretary for Religious Affairs at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), Sheik Muhammad Murshid Luwemba, on instructions of Mufti Sheik Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje suspended Sheik Bagunduuse pending investigations.
According to a February, 19 2021 letter, Sheik Bagunduuse’s suspension is premised on reported inefficiency that was highlighted in a reported which was handed over to UMSC by the Masaka Muslim District Council Committee.
“In the interim, you are instructed to hand over office and all UMSC belongings including the vehicle registration number UAY 815A to Sheik Wasajja Badru Huzair who will take care of the office on Friday February 26, 2021 at midday ,” the letter reads in part .
However, Sheikh Bagunduuse insists he’s still the substantive district Kadhi and dismisses claims of incompetence.
He said a decision to suspend him can only be made by the District Executive Committee through the regional Kadhi who can recommend to the top most leadership of UMSC.
“The whole essence of creating the regional Kadhi office was to decentralise powers and give regions enormous authority to manage and settle their disputes without going to the headquarters, but in this case, the regional executive was not consulted,” he said
He also said he will not hand over the car, saying it is his personal property.
“The log book of the car is in my name and I really wonder why UMSC is saying it is their property,” he said.
The move to suspend Sheik Bagunduuse has been protested by a section of Muslims in Masaka, who said that Sheik Mubajje overstepped his mandate.
Hajjat Bitamisi Namuddu, a prominent Muslim who has over the years been providing free office space to UMSC staff in Masaka, said Sheik Bagunduuse’s suspension was based on rumours.
“I am not happy with the decision made by the Mufti to suspend our Kadhi. He did not consult any of the stakeholders in Masaka but he simply came up with a decision,” she said.
Sheik Kiruta, who was appointed as care taker district Kadhi said he has received the appointment letter and he is ready to serve.
Sheik Bagunduuse took over on April 21, 2013 following the retirement of the late Sheikh Huzair Kiruta, who served for more than 40 years.
Sheik Kiruta who is the father of the newly-appointed Kadhi , was heading the Old Kampala Muslim faction after the Kibuli-based faction appointed Sheik Swaib Ndugga as their district Kadhi .
Unity has eluded Muslims in Masaka like elsewhere in Uganda since Islam’s advent in the country in 1844.
In 1972, former president, Idi Amin Dada forcefully “united” Muslims under the umbrella of UMSC. However, the unity was short-lived when his government was overthrown in 1979.
Muslims reunited again in 2000 shortly after the election of Sheikh Mubajje.
A few years later, divisions emerged after Sheikh Mubajje’s leadership was accused of illegally selling Muslim property on William Street in Kampala.
Those opposed to Sheikh Mubajje’s leadership took the matter to court which later exonerated him. However, they were dissatisfied with the ruling and went ahead to establish a parallel leadership based at Kibuli Mosque.
Although the property has since reverted to Muslims and Sheikh Mubajje publicly apologised, a section of Muslims still believe that this is not enough since he has not personally reconciled with other top leaders at Kibuli.