The maze of crime that Museveni has constructed
By Moses Kamya Ssentamu
Police in Uganda have been forced to take a creative approach to keeping petty offenders in jail, following President Museveni’s October 1, roadside announcement decriminalizing the offence of “Idle and Disorderly.”
Besides stopping police and prosecutors from arresting and charging suspects with that particular offence, Museveni also ordered the release of street vendors and hawkers from detention. The twin directives have thrown municipal authorities into a crisis of sorts as they face the prospect of escalated urban chaos and petty crime in the capital.
While Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola immediately issued a circular ordering his officers to comply with the presidential directive, they have instead gone into passive resistance and taken to creative ways if running rings around Museveni. Instead of charging loafers with the actual offence, Police is holding them under alternative charges. In extreme cases, they are even framing suspects with exhibits such as marijuana.
Despite this leading to miscarriage of justice and also clogging the judicial system with a huge case backlog, the action by police officers represents a form of passive resistance that is new. Besides highlighting Uganda’s unrestrained slide into anarchy, the development once again shows Museveni’s own lack of commitment to rule of law.
According to several commentators, the directive amounts to Museveni usurping the constitution. “What he is doing is not any different from what Idi Amin used to do. Under normal circumstances, the executive should have initiated a process in parliament to amend the relevant law,” said a commentator on one of Kampala’s popular radio talk shows.
According to an analyst who preferred to remain anonymous, the directive finally exposes Museveni for what he is. “Museveni is a conflicted and amoral individual. When his cronies commit serious offenses, he calls them mistakes. That shows a person who lacks a clear sense of right and wrong,” said the analyst, citing as an example the murder of Ronald Ssebulime in which all the suspects have been allowed to walk.
On Museveni’s orders, the Director of Public Prosecutions on 10 September issued a notice withdrawing murder charges against Minister Idah Nantaba and three police officers who were implicated in the cold blooded murder of Ssebulime who was fatally shot while handcuffed on March 24, 2019.
Until his decree stopping the prosecution of petty offenders, Museveni had hidden his disdain for the law behind spurious legislation.
Rather than demand law enforcement, Museveni will instead get new and incoherent laws to be passed by parliament. It is a practice he has extended to all law enforcement agencies where rather than sack errant officers, he simply gets them transferred.
At the institutional level, Uganda is now burdened by a multiplicity of security agencies that spend more time clashing and competing for his attention than executing their mandate. For instance in police, you find the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department CIID, the Special Investigations Unit and the Counter Terrorism Police, all supposed to be doing the same thing.
Yet despite their existence crime including rape and murder, abduction, extortion and child sacrifice for witchcraft rituals continue unabated. On top of these, one has the Internal Security Organisation ISO and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence CMI, all overlapping to a point that for a single crime, you have all these agencies and police arresting and parading suspects.
Analysts believe that this confusion is deliberate on Museveni’s part and intended to help his criminally inclined cronies to go about their business with minimal inconvenience. It is also working in a different ways perhaps with intended consequences!
Career public servants committed to rule of law are getting frustrated and resigning their positions. That creates yet more room for Museveni to infiltrate his thugs into the system, analysts say.
Last week, Ombudsman Irene Mulyagonja was appointed a Justice of the Court of Appeal. She applied for the job to the judicial service commission after Museveni repeatedly attacked the institution to portray it as incompetent and corrupt. Last year, he set up his own State house based anti-corruption unit headed by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema to blindside the IGG.
At the Bank of Uganda, Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende is understood to be so frustrated by the impunity of Museveni’s cadres that he has decided to not renew his contract, which ends December this year. His departure will leave the bank exposed since its chief Tumusiime-Mutebile was barred from making any decisions that commit the bank after he was diagnosed with dementia by British Doctors two years ago.