Why Strengthening Security Is More Important Than A Referendum

The increased spate of murders in Uganda, the most recent one having claimed a life of a 28-year-old Suzan Magara, is a clear indication of a broken security system which the top leadership has deliberately failed to address. In the last eight months the country has experienced almost a similar pattern of organized crime to which the responsible security organs have until now not accounted for. Several embassies have since issued out security alert messages to inform their citizens (in and out) about the current insecurities in the country. Although these insecurities have a bearing on key sectors such as trade and investment and tourism, which contribute a lot of revenue to the economy, from the look of things there is limited willingness by government to crack down crime.

Insecurity in form of organized crime is a symptom of bad governance therefore since no one is immune to crime we must to raise up against the constant inaction towards bringing those found culpable to book. Ugandans still have fresh memories of previous gruesome murders of Muslim clerics, high-profile persons such Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi and AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, among others and the unsolved murders in Entebbe were over 20 women were brutally killed. None of those cases has been resolved to a logical conclusion as others are still handled through the usual vicious cycle of endless investigations.

Despite the fear and tension created by such organized crime, security agencies like police have only succeeded in issuing out reactionary and uncoordinated statements which seem to be massaging the problem at hand. Given the rate at which insecurity manifests itself in this country, one wonders whether our security agencies are fully in charge of our security especially of ensuring of law and order as well as the safety of Ugandans and their property. Recently, the security minister, Gen. Henry Tumukunde asserted that “security” was the biggest asset at the disposal of the ruling government. Really, what became of such an indispensable asset and who is to blame for mismanaging that kind of asset? But still, does Gen. Tumukunde realize that the existing in-fights within the security outfits is also a recipe for further insecurity? Furthermore, the President also seems unbothered or is indirectly fueling the bickering between the security heads which in its sense has compromised the security question of this country.

Apparently, there is a thin line between security agencies and criminal elements, because the former has been infiltrated by goons who have put the country’s peace and security at peril. A state where criminal gangs wield a lot of power and are shouldered by security agencies ceases to be a functional one. If by any chance this kind of insecurity was happening in a democratically sounding state, the security heads would by now have forced to resign due to the failure to effectively execute their mandate. I am a bit disturbed that by the fact that the Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura can still stand before the public to give an account of the state of security in the country. I think if the IGP was honest enough to himself and to the force he superintends, by now he would have agreed with the majority including his boss that police has entirely failed to fight crime and hence resigned from his position.

The proliferation of militias groups working closely with security organs such as police must be dealt with in order to sanitize security in this country. There are however lingering questions of who is responsible for sustaining such groups and as to whether they are an extension of the regime as the police chief recently suggested. Therefore, without overhauling the security structure, we are likely to continue experiencing more gruesome murders where every Ugandan, whether rich or poor is a potential victim. By and large, before the ruling government strategies on how to consolidate itself in power through organizing a referendum which is intended to stretch the term of office for presidency from five to seven years, there are important things to fix now such as the country’s security. It is equally meaningless for government to capitalize on its longevity in power than focusing on the longevity of its citizens. We must stop being outward looking by sending out troops on security peace-keeping missions yet our own internal security is limping.

Badru Walusansa

Commonwealth Correspondent