MPs poke holes in Museveni’s security proposals

It is close to a year now since President Museveni announced that he had agreed to a Shs 450bn security budget proposal for the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to curb criminality.
This was at the height of the yet-to-be explained killings of Muslim clerics especially in the central and eastern parts of the country.
In his message following the gruesome killing of Susan Magara, Museveni repeated the promises he has been making every time the country has witnessed a mysterious killing.  LINDA ESIANA spoke to a cross section of MPs on what they think of the President’s security proposals.

When the former Police spokesman and Human resource director Andrew Felix Kaweesi was gunned down in broad day light on March 17, 2017, the country was thrown in shock for it was now clear that the killers were not only targeting unarmed civilians but also heavily guarded security chiefs.

Kaweesi, his driver and bodyguard were killed three months after Maj Muhammad Kiggundu, who was also a Muslim leader in Kampala was killed with his bodyguard in a similar manner.
On March 19, 2017, Museveni told a vigil at Kaweesi’s home in Kulambiro in Kampala’s Nakawa division that Shs 450bn for installation of CCTV would be catered for in the 2017/18 budget.
With only three months left to close the financial year, there is little hope that the cameras will be installed.
To the MPs, President Museveni has become too casual in as far as dealing with criminality in the country.

“The president should be honest to Ugandans because he proposed that sometime back in his 2016 State of the Nation address. He repeated the same in 2017. In March, last year after the murder of Kaweesi [former Assistant IGP and police spokesperson] he repeated the same,”
“Now this time round the president is not telling Ugandans that criminals have mastered the art. They know that government has no way it can track them down, that’s why they can do their criminality with impunity,” Lwemiga MP Theodore Ssekikubo said.

“Who tells you that the president can be able to circulate security cameras around the city yet he is failing on mere lighting of the city?” the ‘rebel’ NRM MP wondered.

In his statement on Suzan Magara’s murder, President Museveni stated that among the gaps the country is having is the lack of cameras and unregulated sale of mobile phone SIM cards to people without electronic identity cards, adding that in the next two months cameras will be up in many areas.

The president also suggested capturing the palm-print and not merely a thumbprint.
He also suggested the establishment of a national DNA bank in a bid to eliminate criminals.
This proposal is untenable according to the Budget Committee chairman, Amos Lugoloobi, the Ntenjeru North MP.

According to Lugoloobi, a dream of having a DNA bank can only come to fruition in 20 years given the country’s economic dynamics.

Lira Municipality MP, also Uganda People’s congress (UPC) President Jimmy Akena argues that poor technology complicates matters to do with capturing the DNA since many of the security establishments such as police stations have no computers for basic work.

“You need to develop holistically various technological aspects with which you can address those things; the police stations where we go to report lack capacity. On the question of dealing with criminality, the efforts must be multifaceted, Technology alone is not going to help,” Akena said.

To Lubaga South’s Kato Lubwama, the President’s suggested measures will not yield any success given the fighting between security chiefs.

He said as long as the security organs are in fights, concentration is more about their power show-offs than protecting the citizens and their properties as enshrined in the Constitution.

“I think that is not the solution. Before these things (kidnaps and killings) happened, we had a rift within the security forces in this country. The police, army, CMI [Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence] and flying squad among others are always fighting. Unless we resolve those fights, people will continue dying,” Kato said.

In the particular case of Susan Magara’s killing, the MPs hold President Museveni accountable for the lapses in the security system.

“Where as others cases of murder have been abrupt and sudden, in this particular one, the President was engaged in an effort to rescue the girl days before the killing happened. What more, can the President do? He should know that the country is getting impatient, the country is getting tired, we need less words, we need action and that is what the President must put on table,” Ssekikubo said.

During Susan’s requiem mass at Our Lady of Africa Mbuya Catholic Parish Church, her father, John Magara gave an account that showed that President Museveni got directly involved in efforts to rescue Susan from her kidnappers who were demanding for a $1m (Shs3.6bn) ransom.