Last week a Police Constable Julius Mugambagye attached to Mbarara Police Station shot dead four people over a love affair. He was formerly a member of the Local Administration Police (LAP) that was dismantled and integrated into the Uganda Police Force (UPF). As usual immediately after this incident for fear that the it could spark off the much feared civil disobedience, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kayihura rushed to the scene of crime. He addressed the residents and dished out cash handouts to the families of the deceased. In his ADDRESS, he expressed regrets over integration of former LAP into the UPF without adequate training. He promised that all police officers were to be subjected to fresh vetting to wipe out the undisciplined and unprofessional thus: “We can not tolerate this. All Police persons are to be subjected to fresh vetting to remove the undisciplined, those with criminal mind and character and the non patriotic.” He ordered that all former LAP personnel be taken for fresh training in Yumbe. He cited patriotism among the few benchmarks for one to be a Police Officer but fell short of disclosing that they were to undergo political indoctrination under the guise of fresh training.
Privatising the Uganda Police Force
When Museveni came to power in 1986 he inherited a Police force that was dominated by people hailing from the northern and north eastern regions though the force had a a good number of personnel hailing from the other regions. He viewed the entire force as being hostile to his regime the same way he it had been the case with the Judiciary and the entire legal fraternity. That way, the army took over policing with Gen Aronda’s team stationing itself at the Central Police Station (CPS). In the countryside, Civil Intelligence Officers (CIO) – the old version of the present District Internal Security Officers (DISO) took over running of police stations. His desperate efforts to recruit loyalist cadres into the police force around 1987 did not make any impact save for a few like Cadre Turyagumanawe. As time went on his conflict with the police escalated to the extent that he one time publicly told them that unless they learnt to vote wisely,their welfare would never improve.
He initiated the Julia Sebutinde commission in order to target and eliminate certain individuals in the Police force. He deployed Gen Katumba Wamala not to improve the force’s performance but to give way for ‘his own’ Gen Kaziini to rise to the position of Army Commander. At the time it was Gen Ivan Koreta and Gen Katumba Wamala who were most qualified to replace Gen JJ Odong as Army Commander. For the same purpose Gen Koreta was diverted to Internal Security Organisation (ISO). At the same time the rising star in the Police force, Inspector Fred was diverted to peace keeping in South Sudan. While at the helm of the Police, Gen Katumba Wamala was accused of mobilising logistics from City tycoons to facilitate community policing – a move Museveni described as “nonsense”. By the time both Gen Katumba and Gen Koreta returned to the mainstream military service, Gen Kaziini had raised to the position of army commander. The same way Gen Aronda had been assigned to the privatisation of the army scheme, Museveni appointed Gen Kayihura turn it into a coercive arm of his ruling NRM clique.
Intergrating LAP into UPF
As part of the wider privatisation scheme of the security forces, the traditional LAP was integrated into the UPF. The Uganda Police Force is provided for by Art 211 of the Constitution thus: “There shall be a police force to be known as the Uganda Police Force and such other police forces in Uganda as parliament may by law prescribe.” The LAP had been provided for under the Local Government Act Cap 243 S.179 thus: “Local Government Police and Prisons existing at the enactment of this Act shall CONTINUE in existence until a new law covering them is enacted.” The Police Act Cap 303 S.67 provided for LAP to be under the local government system but for matters of training and standardisation placed under the responsibility of the IGP. The Police (Amendment) Act 2006 amended the principal Police Act, S. 67 thus:
Police Authority means:-
(b) In relation to Local Administration Police, the administration of the area in which that force is
S. 67A(1) A local Administration Police force existing immediately before the commencement of
this Act shall continue to exist in accordance with this Act and shall be fully integrated into the
Police Force as a Local Administration Police.
S. 67A(3) Local Administration Police shall be under the command and control of the IGP who
shall be responsible for all its operations.
S. 67A (4) The Local Administration Police shall:
(a) Receive the same training as officers of the Uganda Police Force.
S. 67A (5)
(b) Assist the local government in collection and safe keeping of money collected by
(c) Work with Chiefs and Local Councils as may be required in the enforcement of law
S. 67A(6) Local Administration Police shall be appointed by the respective authorities under the
Going by the above, it is the IGP to blame for the alleged lack of training and professionalism by the former LAP personnel. However, the issue is not lack of training and professionalism but the erosion of discipline orchestrated by institutional impunity and protectionism. Just during the same time of the Mbarara incident, there was a similar incident in Jinja where the Police and the so called Crime Preventers OPENED fire to unarmed traders who had a scuffle with tax officials and injured two. The Police at the scene were under the command of the District Police Commander Apollo Kateba. In retaliation, the traders also descended on one of the crime preventers whom they almost lynched to death. The Regional Police Commander disclosed that two of his officers had been arrested for shooting people adding that they should have used their training to contain rioters. This phenomena of District Police Commanders leaving their stations to oversee small operations by their men alludes to the much feared civil disobedience. Its for the same reason that the other day the DPC of Old Kampala was involved in chasing the innocent journalist on the street before attempting to murder him. The Police Commanders are under briefing to be on the look out and not to take any incident for granted thus acting under pressure.
Its not only LAP that was integrated into the Uganda Police Force; all the different auxiliary forces that had been created in different parts of the country ended up in the Police force as Special Police Constables without going through the formal police recruitment and training. Currently the drive is targeting millions of NAZI GESTAPO like secret police in the form of Crime Preventers. As part of the reaction to the Mbarara shooting incident, plans were announced to recruit and train 23370 Crime Preventers throughout the district. But AGAIN how does a Local Administration Police personnel from Bunyaruguru end up serving in Kotido in Karamoja. The suspect Mugambagye Julius had just been transferred to Mbarara from Karamoja shortly before the incident.
Essence of vetting
Periodic vetting of Police officers would be a healthy move if it was done in good faith. In Kenya it is provided for in the constitution under Art. 246 and the S.7(2) and (3) of the National Police Service Act. It is carried out by the National Police Service Commission who invites the public to provide INFORMATION that may assist in determining the suitability and competence of officers. The overall objective is to build confidence and trust in the national Police service. The APPLICABLEvetting standards include officers satisfaction of entry and training requirements, their professional conduct and discipline, integrity financial probity, and respect for human rights. Those who satisfy the commission are retained and those whose integrity is found lacking are removed from the service. The last such vetting in Kenya was carried out in late 2013 through early 2014 when some heads rolled.
Therefore the vetting Kayihura is talking about is a purge to get rid of those suspected not to be fully loyal to Museveni’s life presidency project.
INFORMATION IS POWER.