What you need to know:
- The delegates say Sheikh Mubajje is no longer the mufti of Uganda after being replaced by Sheikh Abdullah Ssemambo.
A section of members of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) General Assembly has written to the government, asking it to block the embattled Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, from representing the faith at official functions.
The 264-member General Assembly is the top decision-making organ of the UMSC, which also elects and sacks the mufti.
In a February 2 letter addressed to Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, 184 members of the General Assembly argue that Sheikh Mubajje is no longer the mufti of Uganda after being replaced by Sheikh Abdullah Ssemambo in an acting capacity.
“…I have been instructed in line with the General Assembly sitting at Ggangu Muslim Primary School on 16th -17thMuslim to address you and the entire government of the Republic of Uganda… that His Eminence Sheik Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje was retired in public interest from the office of the Mufti of Uganda with effect from Sunday 17th December 2023,” the letter signed by Mr Issa Gule, the acting national chairperson of UMSC, reads in part.
The same letter is also addressed to all Cabinet ministers, State ministers and permanent secretaries.
Mr Gule in the same letter introduced Sheikh Ssemambo as the acting mufti of Uganda, effective Sunday, December 17, 2023.
“I request that you bar Sheikh Shaban Mubajje from the official representation of the Muslim faithful in government and not honour communications signed by him on behalf of the Muslims of Uganda.” the letter further states.
The UMSC Assembly also considered various recommendations that arose from various commissions of inquiry against Sheikh Mubajje’s personal conduct towards a Muslim public office, such as the Kaaya Report of 2003, the Mpeza Report of 2006, the Wadriff Report of 2010, and the Tarsis Kabwegyere Report of 2014 and the recent attachment of the UMSC headquarters and other Muslim prime property by courts of law.
They said, “…all highlighting Sheikh Shaban Mubajje to have been the source of our troubles and springboard for Muslim disgruntlement.”
During the same December 16- 17 UMSC General Assembly, Mr Gule said, Dr Lubega Muhammad Kisambira was also suspended from the office of the National Chairperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council to pave the way for investigations into his alleged abuse of office.
“….request that your esteemed office and the entire government accord us the support necessary for the peaceful transition of leadership in our institution. Kindly forward these changes in the leadership of UMSC to His Excellency the President of Uganda and disseminate agencies and all other key stakeholders in the country,” he added.
The same Muslim leaders last month also wrote to President Museveni informing him about the changes in their leadership.
However, Mr Ashiraf Zziwa, the UMSC spokesperson, dismissed the content of Mr Gule’s letter, saying under the UMSC constitution, it is the general secretary with the mandate to issue such documents.
Mr Zziwa further stressed that the UMSC leadership has never changed, adding that the procedures to change it are stipulated in the council constitution.
“ I wonder why they [members of UMSC General Assembly] are still talking about the said General Assembly after the Supreme Court nullified whatever was done during that meeting, anyway UMSC is not aware of the said letter, and it shouldn’t worry the Muslim community because it’s fake,” he added.
This comes at a time when Sheikh Mubajje is under pressure from the Muslim community to resign over the pending sale of eight prime properties across the country, among them, the UMSC headquarters at Old Kampala, to recover an outstanding debt of more than Shs19b to businessman Justus Kyabahwa after a land transaction deal went bad .
Amid conflicts, the UMSC General Assembly last month elected Sheikh Ssemambo as acting Mufti .
Sheikh Mubajje, who is expected to relinquish power after clocking 70 years in March 2025, has since challenged Sheikh Ssemambo’s election in court.
He has also hit back at critics, saying they are “just jealous of the enormous achievements under his leadership.”
COMPOSITION OF UMSC
The UMSC General Assembly comprises representatives from 78 Muslim districts, with each sending two delegates. Ten Muslim regions are represented by one youth delegate and one woman delegate and another special delegate appointed by the Mufti from each of the 10 regions. The 78 district Khadis are also members.