Kampala — The latest changes in the leadership pyramid at Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) have left a bitter taste in the mouth of Muslims in Kampala Central Division after the new structure abolished their independence and confined their leaders in Mufti Sheikh Shabban Mubajje' s office.
Trouble started after UMSC leaders merged the 62 formal Muslim administrative districts into nine regions in a move they said, seeks to streamline service delivery.
However, the new regional administrative structure has sparked off discontent among sections of the Muslim community in Kampala.
The newly created Muslim regions include; Kampala, west Buganda, east Buganda, Busoga, eastern, northern, West Nile, Ankole-Kigezi and Tooro-Bunyoro.
According to UMSC Secretary General Ramathan Mugalu the changes that took effect on February 9, are aimed at decentralising power, improving service delivery, management of financial resources, transparency, and social justice.
The newly created Kampala Muslim region, according to Mr Mugalu, will comprise four Muslim districts, including; Nakawa, Kawempe, Rubaga and Makindye, leaving out the Central Division.
Under the government structure, all these areas are divisions and according to Mr Mugalu, the operationalisation of the newly created Kampala Region, dissolved Kampala Muslim District and its council as well as its organs.
All Muslim leaders under the dissolved Kampala Muslim District were effectively February 9 also redeployed by the office of Mufti Sheikh Shaban Mubajje.
A section of Muslim youth commonly known as Tabliqs in Kampala Central Division, have protested the new changes as 'misguided' and accused the UMSC leadership of harbouring "bad motives".
The Tabliqs, who are headquartered at both Nakasero and William Street Mosques in Kampala argue that UMSC had no legal basis to create new Muslim regions and dissolving Kampala District Muslim leadership.
Sheikh Ayub Nyende, the secretary general Jamuiyyat Da'awa Assalafiyya (JDA), one of the associations under Tabliq Muslim Community, told Daily Monitor that UMSC leaders did not cite any law from either the UMSC constitution or that of Uganda to effect the new changes.
Jamuiyyat Da'awa Assalafiyya was headed by Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga who is currently jailed in Luzira Prison.
"Whatever the top leaders at UMSC announced on February 9 is illegal because the changes were not based on any approved legislation of UMSC of whatever form and was done in bad faith," Sheikh Nyende said during an interview on Wednesday.
"They (UMSC) quoted a resolution passed on November 28 and 29, 2016, from which they (UMSC) purportedly derive the mandate of forming regional structures, but the resolution simply confirms Mr Mugalu as secretary general of the UMSC," he added.
Sheikh Nyende argues that Article 2 section 5(b) of the UMSC constitution provides the structures with guidelines that stipulate how leadership is run from mosque level to the UMSC top management.
"UMSC should furnish Muslims with the legality of the new structures, because they are not mentioned anywhere in the UMSC constitution," he said.
Sheikh Nyende said Mr Mugalu overstretched his mandate to dissolve the Kampala Muslim District administration.
The Tabliqs have also revealed that after failed attempts to forcefully takeover Masjid Noor on William Street, the UMSC top leadership resorted to announcing illegal changes, hoping that the move would help them regain control of the mosque.
"We believe the intervention of the UMSC Kampala District administration, which publicly condemned the use of violence and restored sanity pushed them (UMSC top leadership) into panic and resorted to employ this mechanism to unlawfully dissolve the district administration so that they again come closer to creating confusion at the mosque," he said.
Both UMSC and Tabliqs are currently at loggerheads over management of a commercial building at William Street in the heart of the city, which houses a mosque and several shops.
The building had earlier in 2005 been sold to city businessman Drake Lubega by UMSC top leadership, but the Tabliqs under Sheikh Kamoga opposed the move, which attracted the attention of President Museveni who later agreed to compensate Lubega with Shs3b so that the property reverts to the Muslim community.
There has been some cooperation between the two factions in the past three years, but issues of money badly scratched their relationship late last year after UMSC demanded accountability of Shs8.7b from Tabliqs.
The money had been collected from the shops between 2006 and 2014.
But the Tabliqs instead asked UMSC to demand accountability from city tycoons Hassan Basajjabalaba and Drake Lubega, to whom they had sold the property before Tabliqs fought for its return.
Citing article 2 (2) of the UMSC constitution, Sheik Nyende said none of the provisions of the constitution were followed while gazetting the new Muslim regions.
The UMSC spokesperson, Mr Nsereko Mutumba, dismissed the rumours about the new UMSC leadership structure as mere allegations which Muslims should ignore.
"The new resolutions (you are talking about) are still proposals that have not yet been implemented. The Muslims should ignore the circulating rumours," said Mr Mutumba in a telephone interview on Thursday.
However; the Tabliq leadership alleges that this type of arrangement is a ploy to deny members of UMSC general assembly from Kampala District, who are loyal to them, a chance take part in crucial-decision making processes at UMSC.
What they say...
"The announced regional administrative structure gives no clear direction on the old and new leadership within Kampala, which has caused lot of confusion within the Muslim community,"
Sheikh Ayub Nyende, secretary general Jamuiyyat Da'awa Assalafiyya
"The new resolutions (you are talking about) are still proposals that have not yet been implemented. The Muslims should ignore the circulating rumours,"
Nsereko Mutumba, UMSC spokesperson