Anglican Church of Uganda in Legal Battle Over Nullified Election and Infidelity Allegations


KAMPALA, Uganda — A group of Christians in the Anglican Church of Uganda have dragged Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu to court, challenging the decision of the House of Bishops that recently nullified the election of the bishop-elect of the Luweero Diocese, the Rev. Godfrey Kasana Ssemakula, over allegations of infidelity. 

The House of Bishops — sitting at Kabalega Resort in the Hoima District, Western Uganda, on June 28 — nullified the election and planned consecration and enthronement of Kasana as the next and fourth bishop of the Luweero Diocese in Central, Uganda. 

In a statement released by the Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Rev. William Ongeng said the election of Kasana on April 3 was nullified on grounds that his integrity was misrepresented during his nomination and the election processes.

The move followed a petition by a group of parishioners in the Diocese accusing the Kasana of infidelity. The petitioners, led by Kenneth Kikabi, disclosed that Kasana was involved in an extra-marital relationship and fathered children outside wedlock, which meant that he was unfit to serve as bishop in the Anglican Church of Uganda. They asked Kaziimba to conduct a forensic audit into his lifestyle in relation to the allegations of infidelity.

Kasana denied the allegations, terming them as blackmail.

Over the last 10 years, the Anglican Church of Uganda has been rocked by a number of grinding legal battles pitting the flock against newly consecrated clergy. Nearly all four regions of Uganda have witnessed a legal battle in which Christians have challenged the process of electing their bishops. 

The group of seven Christians and clergy, who took Kaziimba to court over the Luweero Diocesan conundrum, argued in their court petition through their lawyers of Lubega and Company Advocates and Waymo Advocates that the House of Bishops doesn’t have the mandate to try ecclesiastical offenses under the constitution and canon law of the Anglican Church of Uganda. They noted that such powers are a preserve of the diocese and provincial tribunals. 

They also argue that the Kasana was not given a fair hearing since he was not summoned to appear before the House of Bishops to defend himself, which they say contravened the principles of natural justice, making the decision to  nullify his election illegal.

The group is led by David Lule Mutyaba Muzzanganda. Others are Patrick Kizito, Stephen Mutebi, Godfrey Bwenene Sabavuma, Fred Mubiiru Zigwa, Joyce Mawanda Mazzi and Paul Wasswa Tumwebaze. The petitioners are members of the different churches in the diocese that include St. Peter’s Bukalasa, St. John’s Kiziba Kikyusa, St. Peter’s Luteete and St. Paul’s Church of Uganda, Wobulenzi town.

They want court to declare that the Kasana was legally elected the fourth bishop of Luweero Diocese and issue an order to the consecrate and enthrone him. They also want the court to issue a permanent order restraining the House of Bishops from reelecting another person as the bishop of Luweero Diocese and to declare that the nullification of the Kasana was illegal.   

The registrar of the High Court in Luweero on July 20 issued summons to Kaziimba, also asking him to file his defense within the next 15 days.

Responding to the Luweero court case against him, Kaziimba urged the aggrieved Christians to carefully weigh the impact of their actions and also emphasized the importance of respecting leadership, which comes from God. He further expressed concern over the potential complications that may arise in the process of installing a new bishop endorsed by the court.

The decision to take Kaziimba to court comes less than two weeks after he appointed a caretaker bishop to fill the vacuum in the office of the bishop of Luweero Diocese. Kaziimba appointed the Rev. James William Ssebaggala, the retired bishop of Mukono Diocese, to act as the caretaker bishop of Luweero Diocese. 

Kaziimba had tasked Ssebaggala to prepare the diocese in the process of healing until a new bishop was consecrated and enthroned by the House of Bishops. Kaziimba also asked Ssebaggala to carry out proposed transfers of priests and deacons pending approval of the archbishop and calling and leading of the constitutional meetings, such as the diocesan council, boards and synod.

The office of the bishop of the Luweero Diocese fell vacant after the Rev. Eridard Nsubuga abdicated on July 9 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 in the Anglican Church of Uganda. He was meant to be replaced by Kasana as the fourth bishop of Luweero Diocese if his election had not been nullified.

This is not the first time Christians are taking the archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda to court over election related affairs. Last year, a group of Christians in Muhabura Diocese, Kisoro District, southwestern Uganda, took Kaziimba to court for allegedly failing to handle succession matters in the diocese. 

They alleged that under church law, every diocese was supposed to have a diocesan nomination committee chaired by the diocesan chancellor, appointed in a manner determined by the diocesan constitution and whose tenure is specific in the diocesan constitution. The respondents, who included the archbishop, had failed, refused or neglected to have a constitution in place to facilitate a fair election process for the bishop. 

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