Why Museveni prefers an unpopular Police force

By Charles Kamya Ssentamu

Museveni and Ochola
President Museveni and IGP Martin Okoth Ochola.

President Museveni on Thursday this week sent a message to police, especially it’s senior command, to strive to improve the image of the force.

To achieve this, the President implored them to stop vices like corruption, murders and aggregated robberies, which are high among the force. This message was sent to police through internal affairs minister Gen Jeje Odongo during a police performance review meeting held in Jinja.

Such meeting was necessary, as the force grapples with trust issues among the population. In fact, currently the trust that people have in police is almost at 0 per cent because of the atrocities they have been committing.

It is important to note that it is not just the police where such meeting is important; the rating is not any different for other security organs. What is however most glaring is the contradiction one finds in Museveni’s message to these men and women in uniform.

Actually, according to political commentators, the force in its entirety is not bad, if you were to evaluate the officers on an individual basis. There are honest, patriotic and hardworking Ugandans within the force. However there are the criminals among them that carry out such atrocities, and in most cases on behalf of senior government officials.

“Take the example of Minister Nantaba who ordered the execution of an innocent man, Ronald Ssebulime. Nantaba maintains her cabinet post even after refusing to cooperate with investigators probing this assassination,” said the commentator.

In fact Nantaba, in a letter to CID, said she would not answer to their summons because President Museveni had asked her not to. “We did not hear Museveni come out to deny this, nor did we ever see any sanctions against the minister by her boss, life has simply continued normally,” said our source.

The instances are many but this article will focus on what the commentators see as being at the heart of the public disdain of the police. This is the brutality of the police against the population that this country has seen over the years and which has only escalated. Police is mainly hated by the population because of the onslaught it has unleashed on innocent civilians in the quest to suppress political dissent.

We shall not even labor to provide examples to this because they are so many that it has become normal. Any political rally that is not Museveni’s is crushed immediately and several Ugandans have been killed in such. We have seen Police raid private radio stations, dismantle their studios, yanking out political competitors to Museveni live on air!

“How further can impunity go within the force with such kind of conduct? And what would probably attract public disdain of the police than such atrocities?” Questioned our source. Ironically, this is not something that the President talked about in his message to police leadership, but this is expected because this terror is meted out on the population at his behest.

The paranoid Museveni, whose grip to power is fast loosening as the masses are awakened to his misrule, has resorted to using the security forces to crush and suppress them. With such orders to commit crimes coming from the top most office of the government, the police – especially those bad elements with them – have found it perfectly normal to kill, rob or even take bribe.

This therefore begs the question; why would Museveni choose to address the symptom than the disease itself? The answer is because he is not interested in institutionalism; in his book, there is only one institution, and that institution is called Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

The existence of institutions, let alone the feelings of the population mean nothing to him, as long as those rotten institutions are doing his bidding.

In fact, the expert opines, the chaotic nature of the police and other security organs only work for him because, a professional well organized force would not allow to undertake his unconstitutional orders.

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