By Zziwa Ashraf
Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) began to operate on solid grounds in 1972 with the full backing of the late President Al-Haji Idi Amin Dada and his government. And after the expulsion of Asians, mainly Indians, Gov’t distributed their properties in line with their different religious inclinations.
As a result, the government placed the properties left behind by Asian Muslims in the custody of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council. These comprised Schools, Mosques, Residential Houses, Bungalows, Commercial premises, Warehouses/ stores, factories, Industrial machinery, Sports grounds, Recreation Halls, Clinics and Cemeteries, altogether, numbering over 800 properties.
By 1975, UMSC was one of the biggest Landlords in the country. UMSC also received donations in form of funds because of its close relationship with Muslim Countries and Gulf States. For instance, UMSC operated fixed accounts in the Bank of Uganda with US$ 3 million. It also had an external account with US$ 10 million in the Saudi British Bank in Riyadh, the capital of the royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The strong financial base led the first and second UMSC administrations to initiate mega projects with the advice of the government with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of the Council without depending on donations.
Establishment of Ranches;
Through the line Ministries, the Government rolled out a program of leasing all vacant land in the then abundant cattle corridor in in the countryside. It called upon serious developers to apply to set up the ranches. It was at this time that UMSC picked interest with the hope of exploiting opportunities in large-scale livestock farming with the vision of exporting beef and animals to Gulf States specifically targeting Saudi Arabia being the Center of the annual Muslim Pilgrimage, where several animals are slaughtered.
It was hoped that such projects would generate huge income for the Council. UMSC officially applied to the concerned Ministry for acquisition of Land for the Ranching Scheme.
Wait for the second part of the historical path.
The writer is the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) Spokesperson.