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Politics

Welfare of armed forces is not among Museveni’s priorities

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By Moses Ssejjoba

For the past two months, all military and police barracks in Kampala have not been with water and electricity after they were cut off for failure to pay utility bills. Nakaseke North Member of Parliament Paul Luttamaguzi has reignited the debate to bring to the attention of the powers that be the deplorable conditions of armed forces in this country.

Remember, it is not just the armed forces that are affected, but also tens of thousands of their family members who live with them in the rundown shacks that they call home. Among these installations is Nsambya Police Barracks in the heart of Kampala where the officers who guard the central business district are housed in ramshackle unipots built by colonialists before independence.

“The absence of water and electricity is causing a danger to the public because Police is expected to keep law and order but there is no way they will keep law when they aren’t facilitated,” MP Luttamaguzi told parliament this week.

It is worrying that the police facility is supposed to work 24/7, he added.

And these are the people we all expect to maintain law and order within our city, and they have families here with school-going children. Police and the military has already come up with all sorts of excuses blaming this on administrative procedures that are taking long.

It will take much longer because the man in charge, President Museveni has his priorities elsewhere.

We all know that where anything is in Museveni’s own interests, administrative procedures do not arise as we have come to witness in his 33-year rule. When it comes to his interests, these procedures mean nothing, just like all institutions in this country because he has rendered them useless.

Take just one example. When he felt his grip on power slipping away due to the growing popularity of youthful legislator Robert Kyagulanyi through the much-adored People Power movement, he rushed to parliament to seek a special budget to allow him to campaign freely under the guise of Operation Wealth Creation.

Members of Parliament had to be called from recess to pass the billions of money in supplementary expenditure that he is now splashing across the country where he is in full-throttle campaign mode.

So the “procedures” that would have the already poorly remunerated armed men and women in uniform go without these vital utilities are just an excuse for Museveni’s inaction.

Just a few months back, we brought to you the concerns raised on the floor of the House by another legislator, Honorable Robert Kyagulanyi. Kyagulanyi had to set aside the suffering that has been meted out on him by these same forces to plead their case to improve their welfare.

All this fell on deaf ears because their welfare have never been anywhere near Museveni’s priorities. In fact, our insiders intimate that Museveni has a bone to pick with soldiers and policemen, mainly those deployed in Kampala, because they have increasingly voted opposition during elections.

He has therefore decided to rely more on his well-facilitated personal militia in the name of Special Forces Command, whose de facto patron is his son Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. This is a group of carefully selected officers, mainly from Western Uganda whose loyalty is only to Museveni and his immediate family.

Little wonder that just a few weeks back, an officer attached to this group recently had a public spat with the National Chairperson of the NRM Youth League, Gaddafi Nasur. The officer, identified as Major Rurekura, openly defied this national leader, and addressed him derogatively as a “Mwiru”, thereby refusing him to sit in the presidential tent where Museveni sat.

This was during Museveni’s visit to Masaka during a function held at St Henry Kitovu grounds. To conclude, a poorly facilitated police, as rightly said by Luttamaguzi, is a danger to the very people whose security they are charged with.

By implication, we are on our own, and this explains the wave of crime that is gotten out of control in the country.