UMSC Ranches,Part 12: Haj Abbas Balinda suspended, Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba resigns

As stated in the previous series, Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba seemed to have enjoyed popularity among ordinary Muslims at the expense of Muslim Unity.

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By Zziwa Ashiraf

Mid-1982, tension started building between the topmost muslim leaders at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC )headquarters in Old Kampala.

As stated in the previous series, Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba seemed to have enjoyed popularity among ordinary Muslims at the expense of Muslim Unity.
This triggered discomfort among his colleagues at the UMSC headquarters.

As a result, they secretly began to plot how to tame down his growing influence through well-calculated moves. First, they created what they referred to as a Council of Secretaries (UMSC Department heads) to deliberate the day to day Council affairs without Sheikh Mulumba’s knowledge.

The decision of the council would be passed to the UMSC national executive committee chaired by Prince Badru Kakungulu for approval.

As a part of the plot, the group clandestinely went ahead without the involvement of any relevant Council Organs to amend the UMSC Constitution and place all Executive powers of the Council in the hands of the then UMSC National Chairman, Al-Haj. Prince Badru Kakungulu (R.I.P).

This was the first attempt to amend the UMSC Constitution since 1972. The group subsequently amended the constitution and registered the changes with the relevant government authorities on February 5th, 1982.

It was during the same period that the UMSC Executive Committee got a damning report on the mess at the Industrial and Commercial Holding Ltd, which was mandated to supervise other subsidiary UMSC Companies including Uganda Ranches.
The report revealed that all the companies including ranches were facing legal suits for failure to service loans acquired by top managers including Haj Abbasi Balinda.

During a meeting with the UMSC Executive Committee, the company officials led by Haj. Abbasi Balinda failed to present justification for the personal loans they acquired using UMSC property as collateral.
The executives expressed dissatisfaction with the decision since Industrial and Commercial Holdings Ltd had got the lion share of the grant from Saudi Arabia for securing raw materials and machinery.
The executive then resolved to suspend Haj Balinda and his team for mismanagement.

As stated in the previous series, the then national executive committee designed several ways of stopping the imminent threats resulting from the illegal mortgaging of UMSC properties including Ranches for personal loans acquired by top officials.

At the same time, the topmost leaders under the then UMSC Hon. Secretary General Haj. Isah Khalifa Lukwago were also busy playing political cards with the aim of edging out Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba from the office of Chief Kadhi.

They deliberately kept him in the dark on all administrative and financial transactions of the council.

For instance in April 1982, Haj Lukwago sent a three man team comprising of (R.I.P) Sheikh Anas Abdunoor Kalisa (Dr.) then Ag. Secretary for Religious Affairs (team leader), the late Sheikh Ahmad Mukasa, Chairman Dawa, and Haj Abdu Juma Biramahiire Deputy Secretary General to an International Conference on Islamic Broadcasting Services in Kuwait. When Sheikh Mulumba learnt about the decision he immediately sent a Telex Message to the Conveners of the Conference downing the officials, which embarrassed them before the host country.

In the exercise of his executive powers as the UMSC Accounting Officer, Lukwago neither showed loyalty nor cooperated with the office of the Chief Kadhi as he severally turned down requisitions to facilitate the Chief Kadhi on official duties as he went on a nationwide tour and preside over Muslim events claiming that UMSC was cash crippled.

Sheikh Mulumba was saddened to learn that his collegues at the headquarters often travelled outside the country on what they called official duties with fat allowances and never presented to him any report from the trips.

At one time, the UMSC Hon Secretary General denied Sheikh Mulumba fuel but went ahead to sponsor Express Football Club for a friendly match to Sudan at Shillings 4millions at the time.

The issue of fuel facilitation triggered hostility between the Muslim general public and UMSC administration. The majority of Muslims were perturbed to learn that the Chief Kadhi was being frustrated to visit his people.

This prompted wealthy businessmen especially in Kampala led by Haj Muhamud Kateregga Namuguzi Senior (late) then Buganda Head of Mpologoma Clan and Member of UMSC General Assembly to donate a Mercedes Benz (UWL 316 Blue in color) to the Chief Kadhi.
Haj. Muhamud Kajjumbi Fugge of Nateete, Haj. Sulaiman Mutumba, Alibhai Kayira an Asian (all late) and many others pledged to finance the religious activities of the Chief Kadhi’s office.

Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba Resigns

Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-UMSC managed to negotiate modalities of settling the loans accruing from mortgaged council properties including Masaka Ranch No. 31.

In one of its decisions, the UMSC National Executive Committee created the Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Department with the mandate to directly supervise the Council Properties.

The executive appointed the late Haj Ramadhan Wasike as the First Secretary in charge of the Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Department.

However, it appears the developments never trickled down to the Muslim masses and if it did, they were not bothered simply because they were only interested in hearing that Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba was in the Office of the Chief Kadhi of Uganda.

The UMSC Executive also constituted two Commissions of Inquires. One was politically motivated to investigate all the aid, donations and Grants extended to UMSC in the aftermath of the 1979 war with the expectation that it would pin Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba’s leadership.

The five-member committee comprised of the late Haj Sulaiman Mutumba as the Chair, M. Muluya, Haj Hussein Mabuya, Haj. Juma Walusimbi and late high court advocate Haj. Yusuf Nsubuga Nsambu as its Secretary.

The second Commission was constituted to research, review and draft House Policy. The committee comprised of twelve members with the late Sheikh Said Sheikh an Asian as its Chairperson, deputized by Haj. Abdu Kasawuli Bawonga, Haj Twahil Mukasa, the Secretary and Mr. Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka, the husband of Maria Kiwanuka, the former Finance Minister among others.

In its findings, the first Commission pinned several Council Officials for misappropriating donations, Aid and funds received from several International Muslim Organizations. That was the end of the story.

The second Commission wrote a comprehensive Report with recommendations. The report indicated that during a search at the time, the number of Council properties especially land wasn’t known since it wasn’t properly surveyed or even legally registered with titles.

The members also noted that they were not availed with original Land Titles for the Ranches since most of the concerned council officials were uncooperative.

The tension between Sheikh Kassimu Mulumba and his rivals including his deputy Sheikh Abdu Obeid Kamulegeya escalated further by early 1983. Sheikh Mulumba’s adversaries went on with their ill schemes and hired a gang of thugs who mounted an illegal roadblock and intercept him on his way to a function and robbed his Mercedes Benz at gunpoint.

In one of his teachings, Prophet Muhammad said that when the Almighty Allah decides to show special favour and love to any of His servants, He commands Angels as well humans to love him and show passion. This seems to have come true on Sheikh Mulumba.

Despite the harassment and schemes of his enemies, he enjoyed solid support among the Muslim masses. He was popular just like the late Cardinal Emanuel Nsubuga, the then Archbishop of Kampala Diocese was to the Catholics at the time. The two clerics were friends.

Muslims organised a massive and colourful function commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) where they invited Cardinal Nsubuga as a Special Guest. In his remarks, Cardinal Nsubuga hailed Sheikh Mulumba as his young brother who spoke brilliant ideas.

He also disclosed that Sheikh Mulumba almost succeeded in convincing him to revert to Islam.
As a reader, you can easily picture the excitement among Muslims because of the cardinal’s revelation. Sheikh Mulumba’s rivals decided to twist the cardinal’s statement and used it to further their agenda.

They cropped Sheikh Mulumba’s photos and made him appear like he was donning a crucifix over his chest while greeting the late Cardinal Nsubuga. They dispatched the forged photograph to Arab capitals claiming that Sheikh Mulumba had renounced Islam and joined Catholicism.

By the time Sheikh Mulumba convened the Majis Al Ulama (College of Sheikhs), which unanimously adopted a proposal tabled by (now the late) Sheikh Zubair Kayongo to suspend UMSC Hon. General Secretary Haj. Isah Khalifa Lukwago from the Office, it was too late.

Sheikh Mulumba and his team had also overlooked and neglected to challenge in Courts of Law the then new changes that were done in the UMSC Constitution, a year ago as they amended it in disregard of procedure and therefore rendered the resolution from the Majlis Al Ulama (College of Sheikhs) ineffective.

The entire situation weighed down Sheikh Mulumba and his confidants. This prompted him to publicly announce his resignation from the office of Chief Kadhi.

To continue ……

The author is the Spokesperson of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.

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