Disappointment over Kayihura
Amidst the underground maneuvers, when Kayihura’s contract was renewed, observers seemed to think that the most disappointed man would be Tumukunde and reporters swamped him to say how he felt. In an interview with NBS TV, Tumukunde; who is a lawyer with a smooth manner of speaking, was cryptic:
“In the opinion of the president of the Republic of Uganda who is the commander in chief; in his view, Gen Kayihura is doing a great job, in his view,” Tumukunde said, “Since he is the appointing authority, he decides the rules. Matters of security are matters of the commander-in-chief.”
About the alleged bad blood between him and Kayihura, he said: “Beef about what? I am a minister and not a technical officer. So, what pairs me with Gen Kayihura? If I was director general of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), you would ask me such a question. I am a minister; a policy director, a policy commander of a ministry called ministry of Security under which falls ISO and ESO. So, what are the issues?
While meeting legislators for approval, Kayihura was also reportedly asked about the alleged poor relationship with Tumukunde but parried the question.
“I have no problem with Gen Tumukunde. If he said so, he should tell you but I don’t know about it,” he said.
Kayihura’s reappointment excited some people, among them Jude Kagoro, a sociologist and lecturer at Bremen University in Germany, who has researched and published a few papers about Uganda Police including a paper titled; `For whom do the police work?: The Ugandan police between militarisation and everyday duties’.
Kagoro says looking at the criticism against Kayihura, the police chief is a victim of politics. He says that attacks on Kayihura, are by extension, attacks on President Museveni and that the debate on him tends to get clouded by criticisms on the politics.
That is not to say that Kayihura or police as an institution have no weaknesses, Kagoro says, “but there are weakness in all institutions in Uganda”.
“In police,” he argues, “the weaknesses are more pronounced because of police’s extensive reach and interface bureaucracy. Police reaches every one and is always interfacing with all sorts of people more than many of these institutions. That is why they are on the spot all the time.”
Kagoro says matters are not helped by the means the police use; they carry arms and the term policing globally denotes some level of violence.
“We tend to forget all this when analysing Kayihura’s performance.
“But it is not by default that Kayihura’s contract was extended. He has heavily invested his thoughts, time and commitment. I have never seen a man so committed to his work like Kayihura, he never sleeps, always meeting all sorts of people.
If you remove him this time, you would leave a huge vacuum given that he has initiated a lot of projects, which are on-going like developing the force intellectually,” Kagoro adds.
Kagoro teaches at the Bwebajja-based Police Command and Staff College, part of the initiative to get experts to share knowledge with police. He also coordinates an arrangement police has with the United Nations University of Peace and has been working on the police doctrine, which will be like the bible of the police.
“You can see the level at which the police chief is thinking,” Kagoro said, “We are having this debate because Kayihura has raised the stakes. He has improved its resources, numbers and quality. The level of interest in joining the police by people from very good backgrounds is impressive.”
When Kayihura joined police in 2005, police budget was under Shs 70 billion, it has since skyrocketed to over Shs 400 billion.
Jude also said that the social status of the force has also improved.
“Today, people invite police officers to preside over social functions because they feel this adds value,” Kagoro said.
He added that he is part of a team of researchers studying police forces in Africa and has so far found that while in some other African countries, people run away from police, in Uganda people run to police.
Whether they (people) are helped or not is a different matter,” Kagoro said, “But this shows that there is some level of confidence. The pre-existing distance between people and police is narrowing. You can see this from the volumes that come to police not just to report cases but in some cases upcountry, to hang out with officers.”
But it is Simeo Nsubuga, a former police spokesman and a legislator who sits on the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee, who possibly summed up best what needs to happen going forward.
“What is important is for him (Kayihura) now to serve Ugandans better,” he said.