UGANDA: FDC preacher Nyanjura advises Museveni
Replacing Kayihura with Ochola, Sabiiti is a no change
A huge sigh of relief reverberated across the country when news of General Kale Kayihura’s dethronement first broke. A sense of high expectation is palpable in the air. However we need to exercise cautious optimism because the problem is much bigger than Kale Kayihura. His replacement by Okoth Ochola does not inspire confidence or represent a break with the past.
As Deputy IGP, Ochola can be described as a pious character that would never dare contradict his master. He is not a Julius Odwee or Francis Rwego who would sometimes exercise a level of independence and seek to uphold professional standards albeit very hostile circumstances controlled by military generals in police uniform to whom civil policing is alien. He betrayed those under his command who sought to act professionally by not standing up to defend them.
Secondly and most importantly, Ochola is not the man in charge. Since the appointment of Gen Katumba Wamala as IGP in the early 2000s, Power in the police force has been vested in the hands of military Generals. This is in fulfilment of Museveni’s pledge to sort out the police when he complained that if he were to contest with a cow, the police would vote for the cow and not him, this was after he had been resoundingly defeated on almost all polling stations where the police voted in the 2001 presidential elections.
Therefore the man to watch is not IGP Ochola but rather his deputy Brigadier Sabiti Muzeeyi. I will plead guilty to knowing next to nothing about his personality. However I can comfortably assert that he has a huge task before him if he is genuinely interested in changing the police.
The police that muzeyi inherits is literally a rogue police force! Therefore the main task he has is to institute administrative reforms to curb criminality and impunity in the force. I advisedly skip the question of institutional reforms because it would be a redundant observation given that there is no political will to carry out such reforms. Muzeyi will definitely follow the job description given to him by the appointing authority and I swear by my great Grandfathers that institutional reforms and professionalization are not part of his execution orders. The incompatibility of professionalism and despotism is indubitable.
To patch the force’s tattered image, Muzeyi must take swift and stern action against all those officers that have been named in various criminal scandals. The police being the law enforcement organ of the state must not only learn to respect and follow the law it seeks to enforce, it must be seen to be doing so. We have seen the police work closely with known notorious criminal gangs in the name of fighting crime! The result is that murder, rape and other forms of violent crime have become order of the day.
Indeed senior police commanders have been alleged to be directly involved in these crimes. The response from the top was to shield the suspects and jail those officers that sought to play by the rules of professional morality and the rule of law; the message was as clear as it was shocking- The criminals are in charge! Merely taking these criminal officers on forced leave will not suffice. They should be put behind bars where every other suspect is normally put as investigations go on. Charges against those that have been victimized for speaking out against evil should be dropped forthwith.
With his background of the military and being a Muhoozi protégé, his allegiance is unquestionably to the despot and not to the institution, this is a challenge that will continue to dog the force. Remember that the military was introduced to the police ranks to sort them out such that they can vote ‘’wisely’. Therefore we can assert that under Museyi, the force will continue to be the armed militia of the ruling party. The opposition and other activists will continue to be brutalized, CID will continue to level trumped up charges against opposition activists and tear gas will continue to be the opposition activists’ daily bread until the regime is finally shown the exit.
It is interesting to hear NRM supporters shout for joy that the problem was that ‘Mzee’ M7 let Kayihura stay on the job for too long that he started treating police matters as personal family affairs. The question is if overstaying is bad for Kayihura, how can it be good for Museveni?
At the very best, Sabiti Muzeyi may implement administrative reforms and they too can be modest. The institutional questions especially as they relate to professionalizing the force to serve all citizens equally without fear or favor, affection or ill will will remain a tall order even for the most well intentioned professional. The nature of the regime is such that all institutions of State are subordinated to and serve the whims of the despot.
Those who truly hunger for a professional police force should actively work for the despot’s down fall. Under the NRM despotism, the more things change, the more they remain the same for their creed is NO CHANGE, SO WHY ARE YOU EXCITED AND EXPECTANT?
The author is an FDC NEC member &
LC5 Woman Councilor Makerere University.