Who is Hassan Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka? Flash Uganda Media looks at his Biography, Early Life and Education, Politics, Work and Experience of a Ugandan attorney.
Hassan Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka is a Ugandan attorney, businessman famously known for suing the Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.
He’s best known to be a courageous man, fearless and determined since his childhood who can challenge anyone without fear or favour.
Early Life and Education
Hassan Male Mabirizi was born in 1987 in Rubaga to a business Mr Mohammad Mutumba Ganaffa and the late Ndwaddewazibwa Mastula. Mabirizi’s mother died in 1992 when he was only five years old in Primary two and this was the beginning of the end of his good childhood life.
His father later remarried and sent the little Mabirizi to his grandmother in the village, Nkokonjeru in Buikwe District where he stayed until he completed his primary school level. Hassan Male Mabirizi attended Nkokonjeru Muslim primary school.
He narrates that he never wore shoes during his primary school days until the day he sat for his Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE).
“I put on shoes in nursery when my mum was around but when she died and I went to the village, I went to school barefoot up to P.7. I only put on shoes when I was going to do PLE because I had to be smart.”
Mabirizi returned to Kampala City after getting his PLE result in which he had an excellent performance to join Secondary School.
Nonetheless, in his early days in secondary school, Mabirizi irritated his family after he refused to offer an apology to his stepmother on the orders of his father and other relatives.
Mabirizi’s stepmother had accused him of disrespecting her and when he declined an apology, the rift between them got worse. As a result, Mabirizi was chased away from home and his father stopped paying his school fees.
Mabirizi refused to accept his dismissal from home and decided to stand up for his rights. At 16 years, Mabirizi sued his father for negligence and neglect of his fatherly duties. But being a minor, Mabirizi was advised by the family division court to forward his complaints through an adult.
So, his father was summoned by the court, after which he agreed to pay the fees but Mabirizi’s father denied him access to his house. Mabirizi proceeded with school and his headteacher at Crane High School Natete, Kampala offered him a vacancy in the boarding section, which gave him a chance to a better future.
Mabirizi worked hard and persevered and at the end of the four years, Mabirizi was the best candidate at Crane High school, scoring eight aggregates in the best six subjects. This excellent performance earned him a vacancy at Kawempe Muslim Secondary School and this compelled his father to offer him financial and basic needs support.
At Kawempe Muslim SS, Mabirizi worked extra harder to qualify for a government scholarship. His dream was to pursue a Bachelors of Laws at Makerere University. Indeed, his dream came true; Mabirizi was among the excellent performers with 25 points, which earned him a place at Makerere University, Law class.
Mabirizi qualified as a lawyer, but he saw no reason to enrol for the postgraduate diploma in legal practice at the Law Development Centre (LDC) that would have made him an advocate of the High Court.
“I chose not to practice law because by the time I graduated I was already running a business and I thought that route (business) would serve me better than the law,” Male said, without disclosing his line of business.
During his second year of study at Makerere University, Mabirizi started a money lending business under a company called MK Financiers along Buganda Road from his savings as a taxi conductor during the long senior six holidays. He still earns from the money lending business in addition to his legal career.
At Makerere University, Mabirizi was a member of Nkoba Zambogo. He’s best remembered for taking on what he called dominance of the students from the school of education (MESA) on the organization’s top executive positions.
Fellow law students supported his view but backed off, fearing to be blacklisted by Mengo, being viewed questioning absence of transparency and democracy in a Mengo affiliated student’s organization.
Mabirizi single-handedly pursued the matter prompting Mathias Mpuuga, who was the then youth minister at Mengo government, to have a review of the Zambogo Constitution.
Mabirizi on Bobi Wine’s academic papers
Backed by change seeking Ugandans, the controversial lawyer Male Mabirizi petitioned Electoral Commission (EC) over Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine’s academic credentials.
Mabirizi asked EC to show him Bobi Wine’s academic credential before the 2021 general elections.
In his letter to EC dated August 10, 2020, Mabirizi says he wants Bobi Wine’s academic credentials to satisfy his doubts that the presidential hopeful possesses the minimum requisite paper for the office.
Mabirizi said he has the right to access any information under section 5 of the Access to Information Act, 2005, and Article 41 of the Constitution. He added that they want to avoid a scenario of former Kampala Mayor Hajji Nasser Ssebagala. “We Baganda do not want to be ashamed again.”
Age limit case
Hassan Male Mabirizi trended in the media after he made a well-articulated submission during the age limit case at the Constitutional Court in Mbale.
In his submission, Mabirizi contested how Members of Parliament amended the constitution which saw among others the presidential age limit lifted.
According to him, parliament did a constitutional replacement and thus demanded the court to scrap the amendment so that the Constitution is upheld.
Mabirizi is remembered for arriving at the Supreme Court with a truck of books to file an appeal case against the age limit ruling arguing that Constitution Court did not satisfy the issue he raised.
Mabirizi as well attempted to sue the government over age limit case at the East Africa Court of Justice but it was thrown out ruling that the process of enacting the age limit was properly done within legal requirements.
This was after the Supreme Court dismissed Mabirizi’s appeal case against the same.
Rise to Fame
He sued the Kabaka for illegally collecting land fees ‘Busuulu’ and as well demanded, for a disclosure of his bank accounts details among other things.
Being a Muganda and as much the King’s subject, to many, Mabirizi’s action was an abomination in the kingdom when he accused the Kabaka of illegally collecting land fees through the Buganda Land Board ‘BLB’.
However, Mabirizi reasons that he had to follow his conscience even though the move appeared too contentious. Perhaps, it was the very reason he hardly found any lawyers to represent him in court. Luckily, Mabirizi was a lawyer and decided to represent himself.
“The Kabaka has so many subjects and supporters some of whom believe that suing him is demeaning,” said Mabirizi, “Many fear to be associated with such a case.”
And in all his cases, Mabirizi has been his attorney.
Why Mabirizi sued Kabaka
Mabirizi said he had witnessed how people on Kabaka’s land struggled to pay the fees levied by the Buganda Land Board.
“My relative had a child who she was paying school fees for. She had accumulated some money for some good time but she was forced to pay that money to Buganda Land Board. I have seen many such cases and people are suffering very much,” he pointed out.
Male dismissed talk that he is anti-Mengo, clarifying that he is a very loyal subject of the Buganda King.
“I’m a Muganda of the Kkobe clan and I love the kingdom. My grandmother Ali Musisi Lunyomo was an assistant to Prince Nooh Mbogo. My other grandfather Kassim Male was the first Muslim Minister at Mengo during the reign of Muteesa II. Therefore, you cannot detach me from the kingdom, my blood is there, but I don’t think fathers and grandfathers who fought for this kingdom will be happy to see the children being told to pay for the land they fought for,” Male said.
Years back, Buganda Land Board launched a mass registration exercise in which tenants on the Kabaka’s land were to pay between Shs. 100,000 and Shs. 600,000. But Male insists that the Kabaka does not own land in Buganda as it is widely believed.
“The Kabaka owns that land by virtue of his office but it is not his personal estate,” Male argued.
On the other hand, the Kabaka argued in his defence, through Bashir Juma Kizito, that the constitution and the Land Act give him powers over land both in his personal and official capacity.
“The land in issue is an official mailo and belonging to the respondent ‘Kabaka’ as corporate sole in his own right and as well as in trust of his subjects…” Kizito’s affidavit reads in part.
The reason why Mabirizi challenged the Kabaka on such a controversial and sensitive issue, Male said: “I have a village background; so, I know the suffering of poor people, especially in acquiring property,” he said.
He dismissed talk doing rounds that there was probably an invisible hand behind him.
“If you say that someone is behind me, then you are saying I’m incompetent, which is not the case,” Male said.
The Court of Appeal later dismissed Mabirizi’s appeal case and ordered him to pay costs to Kabaka Mutebi.