Sheikh Abdallah Ssemambo has stepped up to assume the role of acting mufti of Uganda, expressing a commitment to redeeming the image of the Islamic religion. Ssemambo believes that the leadership of Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, who has headed the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) for 23 years, has resulted in significant damage to the reputation of Islam. Citing Mubaje’s involvement in controversial dealings, such as the Ssembabule Muslim land sale, Ssemambo asserts that a mufti should exemplify integrity.
Accepting the responsibility to serve as acting mufti, Ssemambo emphasizes the need to restore the trustworthiness of the Muslim community. He commends President Yoweri Museveni for assisting in the recovery of properties sold by UMSC officials, highlighting the collaborative efforts to rectify past transgressions.
Ssemambo acknowledges the support he has garnered from the Muslim community nationwide, expressing gratitude for their understanding of the mission to restore the credibility of the Mufti’s office. He remains undeterred by his impeachment as the first deputy mufti, dismissing the authority of the chairman who initiated the process.
Dispelling any notion of establishing a separate headquarters, Ssemambo asserts his commitment to operating from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council headquarters at Old Kampala, aiming to bring about a sense of order. With backing from Arab countries, Ssemambo positions himself as a figure working towards the common goal of reclaiming the integrity of the Mufti’s office.
Ssemambo’s appointment as acting mufti on December 17, 2023, follows a court ruling prompted by concerns raised by members of the UMSC general assembly. The ruling responds to a company cause filed against UMSC, questioning the conduct of its affairs, including the ongoing sale of Muslim properties. While UMSC seeks a review of the court decision, the turmoil within the council stems from the controversial Ssembabule Muslim land sale.
The sale of the Ssembabule Muslim land, finalized on June 24, 2020, involved a transaction between UMSC and businessman Justus Kyabahwa, with the latter purchasing land at Ssembabule measuring 518 hectares for sh3.5b. The controversy unfolded as Enterprise Holdings Limited, owned by businessman Albert Muganga, claimed a running lease secured from Ssembabule Muslim district council, leading to a legal battle.
Justice Victoria Nakintu Katamba, on December 24, 2022, ordered UMSC to transfer the certificate of title to Enterprise Uganda Limited upon payment of sh620m. Despite subsequent legal actions, including a commercial court order for UMSC to pay sh19b to Kyabahwa, the Court of Appeal has temporarily halted the planned attachment of UMSC properties.