Museveni digs himself into a deeper hole
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
Common sense dictates that if for some reason you find yourself in a hole and want to get out, the first thing to do is to stop digging. But this simple tenet appears to elude Museveni who, every passing day, appears to be digging himself deeper into a security hole.
This week, Museveni appointed a new set of officers from the military to beef up his rickety police force that has failed to meet its basic mandate of providing security of person and property to Ugandans. In what Uganda Peoples Defense Spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire called “cross-pollination”, Museveni appointed Col Sserunjoji Ddamulira as the deputy director for counter terrorism at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Brigadier Golooba was appointed director of human resource and training; Col Kamunanwire takes over Administration, while Brig. Bakashumba is now Police Chief of Staff. Many were left scratching their heads at the latter move: when was there ever a position called “chief of staff” in Police?
With these appointments, the last chips in saturating the police force with serving military officers are falling into place, as career police officers are shunted aside. One can safely say that the days of IGP Martin Okoth Ochola are numbered.
Coming after another gruesome murder of a commercial motorbike taxi rider, the reshuffles are supposed to give the public a sense that something is being done to improve their security. But Ugandans don’t see a difference and are not convinced: by adopting this approach, Museveni is applying the same old medicines that have failed to work in the past to an old disease.
For the record, apart from tyranny and brutalization of the public, the police’s capacity to detect and contain crime has only gotten worse since Museveni first brought the military into the force. What he seems not to realize is that he is reaping the fruits of breaking down the formal structures of the force simply because he thought it was not politically loyal to him. In his mind, Museveni turned the very institution charged with enforcing the law into one where the officers have realized it pays more to commit crimes.
That has been the trend when critical units like the Special Branch and Criminal Investigation Department were disbanded and replaced with new offices that had politically correct names but lacked the requisite capacity. However, their alliances with criminal gangs and unchecked graft further eroded the force’s will and capacity to fight crime.
Gradually, the leadership of the police redefined policing to mean regime protection and Museveni was happy; as long as they wreaked violence on the people, they were doing great in Museveni’s books.
Since 2010, the police hasnot solved a single a high profile murder; not one of the several prominent people – including some of their own.
Last September, Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Kirumira was gunned down near his home in the Kampala suburb of Bulenga. His slaying by gunmen riding a motorcycle bore similarities to the murders in March 2017 of Police Spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi. Just three months later in June Ibrahim Abiriga, MP for Arua Municipality was gunned down within the vicinity of his residence.
Up to now, despite the lavish funding of Museveni’s security agencies, not a single breakthrough has been recorded. The murders have been swept under that carpet.
That however did not stop Museveni using the Kirumira murder to push through a US$ 400 million surveillance camera project that he promised would help curb crime. Nearly 3000 of them have been planted around Kampala, albeit haphazardly. But apart from helping catch a few purse-snatchers, the cameras are yet to deliver tangible dividends. It is apparent someone within Museveni’s system isn’t very interested in making full use of the cameras procured at such great cost to Ugandans.
Like the cameras, the latest reshuffles serve the same purpose. Museveni is not keen on having a competent police force, or state for that matter.
The criminal enterprise running down Uganda is closely linked to his inner circle. Museveni knows that he would be the first victim if Uganda got a professional security force. The military appointments are intended to obfuscate further any efforts to get to the real people behind the crime and anarchy that holds Ugandans hostage today.