General Otafiire soiled his policing message

Minister Kahinda Otafiire at the police headquarters recently

Major General Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Internal Affairs, tried to give the worst excuse for not having an adequate police force.

The general wants Ugandans to pay more taxes so that the government can get more police boots on the ground to fight crime.

“Either you give us enough policemen or don’t complain about crime. You know we have a parliament whose size is larger than that of Britain. Did you know that our parliament is bigger than that of Britain? Britain’s economy is 200 times the size of Uganda’s economy. They have about 600 MPs, and we have about 554 (557). We can’t afford it! How can Uganda have a parliament the size of the British parliament and yet you don’t have enough policemen?” he said.

It’s odd that Otafiire is complaining about a bloated parliament. Otafiire is part of the government that has been creating new districts. He wouldn’t be a member of parliament if his current constituency had not been created. They claimed districts brought services closer to the people, but new districts are merely new units of consumption.

They produced more money-gobbling organs such as district councilors, administrators, legislators, and resident district commissioners, among others. Otafiire is a beneficiary of political gerrymandering.

In the 2016 parliamentary elections, Otafiire was dethroned by Capt Donozio Kahonda from Ruhinda county, which he had represented since 1994. To save him further humiliation, Ruhinda was divided into two, Ruhinda county and Ruhinda South. Kahonda remained in the south and Otafiire returned to Ruhinda County. Otafiire explained that indeed some districts have been created for political expedience:

“Where do we get the resources to support these two institutions [the police and parliament]?” Sometimes we are forced to do things which have no meaning because people demanded for districts. President, give us a district; if you don’t, we shall not vote for you! The man says, okay, since you want a district, what do I do? You have now created Frankenstein. We need enough police officers. Since you wanted districts, you are going to pay taxes to get police officers. You have a big parliament, and you want a big police force. How shall you feed them, yet you have one cow?”

The general is not being honest here. First, he must accept that because of the narrow political interests, they have deliberately mismanaged the country by pandering to the so-called demands of the people. It is not even accurate that these demands are made by ordinary persons.

They are instigated by the very top politicians including the president. The creation of Ruhinda South in Mitooma district is a case in point. Two, the distribution of police resources is also questionable. For instance, there are VIPs who have more police guards at any given time than a police post.

Otafiire himself, has two police pick-up trucks each laden with eight armed police guards. The minister of state for Internal Affairs, Gen David Muhoozi has two police pickup trucks with the same number of police officers. There are several other VIPs who have similar police facilities.

So, in reality these VIPs have more police resources than what is deployed at a police post. Many police posts don’t have a motorbike or truck to respond to any calls for rescue.

The country spends more on individuals than the community. And for the past 37 years the NRM government has been slow to recruit and improve the welfare of police.

They preferred Local Defence Units (LDUs) to civil police. Crimes should be taken as a serious security matter which requires serious reconfiguration of the forces, and not shallow rhetoric.

Source: The Observer

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