General Kale Kayihura is now waiting further deployment by the commander in chief, having been relieved of the responsibility of commanding the Uganda Police Force (UPF) in a rather unceremonious way.
But that is typical of our visionary. He must surprise those under his command before they surprise him. I was particularly concerned about Kayihura’s body language and parting shots during his handover ceremony to the new inspector general of police, Martin Okoth Ochola.
The nuances were very loud and clear. Kayihura portrayed himself as if what he had done for the police in the past 13 years was not appreciated.
But why should he care? After all, the one who deployed him for all those years was happy until the deployee started shooting and aiming at his target later. It is also general knowledge that Kayihura was/is an NRM cadre. Cadres work for beliefs or certain ideologies, and not the general good!
He was at pains to explain his achievements. Prominent among the achievements was the fact that he is one of the few Ugandans who spent more time with Queen Elizabeth and she was able to leave the country without any hitch!
He also bragged that he had increased the force from 18,000 officers to 45,000. He also increased its budget!
And how did that huge budget impact on the image, performance and welfare of police officers? And what’s the matter with numbers? Did the numbers make it more professional, dependable and ethical than it was when they were a small group?
The criminals have grown more sophisticated in the manipulation of technology and science for crimes. How updated is the police force in terms of technology?
The unfortunate incident of the kidnap and ultimate death of Susan Magara surely showed that police is not up to date with technology. Police was allocated land to build a modern laboratory, but not even a foundation stone has been laid.
The country still relies on private and foreign laboratories to sort out scientific puzzles concerning exhibits. We cannot blame General Kayihura for the entire bad image of the police; but, surely, 13 years of being innovative, mainly in coercive devices, leaves a lot to be desired.
Oh yes, the police budget was able to get them new headquarters! Why did he, however, fail to at least put up a modern police barracks? Police posts in upcountry areas are very pathetic. And of course he couldn’t wind up without mentioning his petty project, the crime preventers. And he has offered to be a volunteer crime preventer.
He does not deserve a prize for creating crime preventers because this was supposed to be a free and voluntary work. But it was hijacked and turned into a political outfit to do work for the NRM. One of the reasons why the general did not endear himself with the people is that he seemed to work best with informal organization rather than the real institution he was appointed to head.
He preferred to work with illegal outfits such as Boda Boda 2010, headed by infamous Abdallah Kitatta, to honing the skills of police officers. Along the way came the Kifeesi, another informal group which terrorised ordinary citizens but received ‘protection’ from police or police was under orders not to touch them.
Kayihura did not have to end like this. He just chose to do the wrong things when he had the goodwill of officers and the populace to help him make an impact in the building of UPF.
Meanwhile, I read strange signals from the subsequent appointment of Brigadier Muzeyi Sabiiti Mugyenyi as deputy inspector general of police. Does it have to take the army to teach the police how to work?
Police had failed to take action against its own officers who had turned into criminals. Again, it was the army that made the arrests and is conducting trials in the court martial. The president saw it fit to appoint another army officer to help a career police officer to organise the force! What does this say about the growth of the police institution in Uganda?
Isn’t this an indicator that while the general was chest-thumping as having built a modern police, police still lacks the officers with requisite attributes to lead itself? They have to be ‘nannied’ by the army! How sad!
But perhaps there still lurks a bush hangover. Remember the early post-bush government (1986) had wanted to dismantle the entire police and let NRA do the police work. This view was resisted by the then internal affairs minister Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere. Now it appears the UPF will not be dismantled, but fused with the military!
The author is the business development director at The Observer Media Limited.