What is the silver bullet with the army?

From the personal perspective of President Yoweri Museveni, the army is best tooled to iron out challenges in most government departments.

For instance, when the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) had trouble distributing seedlings to farmers, President Museveni decreed that Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) headed by retired General Salim Saleh takes over the mantle.

Gen Saleh is deputized by Lt Gen Angina, who is still an active army officer. The role of army officers in NAADS is not clear, not only to them but also to the ministry of Agriculture officials. In the end, it is difficult to apportion blame or evaluate the impact the army has had on the agricultural advisory services. State House is also littered with various units headed by soldiers.

The most recent formation is the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) headed by Lt. Col Edith Nakalema. This unit in particular has legal status challenges. Whereas it may arrest offenders, it has no legal mandate to prosecute cases and police cannot rely on its investigations to prosecute any offenders.

So, what is the point of having such a unit? President Museveni said the unit was to help the Inspectorate of Government and Police in apprehending criminals. Wouldn’t it have been better if the Inspectorate of Government was strengthened with more manpower and other tools of trade, than creating parallel entity?

The president has also deployed army officers in the directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control contrary to the Constitution and the Public Service Commission standing orders and other relevant laws.

The subtle explanation is that soldiers are effective and less prone to corruption! This is false. In the past, the army has demonstrated that it’s so prone to grand corruption including, and not limited to, the expansive inflation of the payroll.

The point is, soldiers are not angels. Recently the president again, without citing any laws, appointed and deployed four senior army officers to the positions of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP).

These positions unlike that of Inspector General of Police and the deputy, are not reserved for political appointments. They are for career officers.

One of them is going to head the department of human resource and training!

In terms of lifespan, the Police has lived a longer though chequered life than the Army! Therefore, if the secondment or deployment was done in order to enhance human capabilities, then police officers should be deployed in the UPDF.

It is also not possible that the human resource and training needs of Police are best understood by army officers. The laws: the Constitution of Uganda, the Police Act and Uganda People’s Defence Forces Act, give police and the army different mandates.

The intermittent interruptions by the president’s appointments are likely to frustrate any efforts ever of police being what it is supposed to be.

Let the army keep in its lane. Could it be that there are more army officers than is necessary and, therefore, the president needs to find them work in other departments? Uganda needs to build institutions, and the created agencies must do the work for which they were created.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd