Violence looms as Masaka Muslim leaders renew property wrangles

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MASAKA. Tension within the Muslim community in Masaka District is building up due to property wrangles.
The conflict is pitting one faction loyal to Old Kampala administration led by Mufti Shaban Mubajje against that of Sheikh Silman Kasule Ndirangwa, the leader of the Kibuli-based faction.
The major bone of contention is on which of the two factions has authority to manage Muslim property in the district.
Apparently, the two parallel district Kadhis; Sheikh Swaibuh Ndugga and Burhane Bagunduse, who affiliate to Kibuli and Old Kampala leadership respectively, are embroiled in a fresh dispute over the management of Bwala Muslim Primary School, two plots of land, and a commercial building, all located in Masaka Town .

Accusation
According to Sheikh Ndugga, their Old Kampala counterparts forcefully seized the management of the school and are now plotting to confiscate the other properties still under his custody.
He threatened to mobilise his affiliates to rise against any attempts to take over as well as fighting to recapture the lost property.
However, Sheikh Ndugga partly blames the continued Muslim woes on government’s delay to review and implement findings and recommendations by a commission that inquired into Muslim wrangles.
At the peak of their disagreement in 2013, President Museveni assigned a nine-member committee chaired by Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere, which compiled a report with several recommendations. Sheikh Ndugga is concerned that while the committee instructed each of them to maintain the status quo, their counterparts are overstepping their rights with impunity.
But Sheikh Bagunduuse says all the mentioned property is registered in the names of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), which is the overall and legitimate custodian of all Muslim properties.
“It is under that delegated authority that we are seeking to properly manage the properties in Masaka, which our counterparts have rundown,” he said.
He, however, distanced himself from any violent means to accomplish their objective.

Authority
Hajj Abubaker Gainamungu, the current administrator of Bwala Muslim Primary School described the arguments by the Kibuli faction as mere threats premised on selfish interests. According to him, UMSC assigned him responsibility to manage the school after it had registered a lot of failures from the former administrators.
Mr John Mwaule, the Masaka District police commander says they are ready to avert any confrontation between the two warring factions.
Muslim leaders have been at loggerheads for the last decade after a section of them accused Mufti Mubajje of illegally disposing of property belonging to the community in Kampala.
This forced the dissatisfied group to set their base at Kibuli Hill and elected the late Sheikh Zubair Kayongo as its supreme mufti. When Sheikh Kayongo died in 2015, the group replaced him with Sheikh Ndirangwa.
Although the said property has since reverted to Muslims and Mubajje publicly apologised, a section of Muslims still believe that this is not enough since he has not personally reconciled with other top leaders at Kibuli.

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