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FDC doubts gov’t commitment to solving greater Masaka security crisis

FDC Deputy Spokesperson John Kikonyogo.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | If government security agencies managed largely to pacify Somalia, deploy in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic among other countries, why is it taking long to decisively deal with bijambiya (machete) murders in greater Masaka region? Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) asks.

“It’s not because of incompetence but lack of commitment,” FDC Deputy Spokesperson John Kikonyogo argued during the party’s Monday weekly press conference at the party headquarters.

Kikonyogo says if government security agencies double their intelligence efforts, the problem of bijambiya murders can be solved quickly.

The machete wielding murderers have so far killed 28 people in the past six weeks in greater Masaka region. And given that none of the murderers have been arrested, expect some suspects, it remains unclear what their motive is.

What is clear is they are not thieves because they have not been targeting rich people, nor have they been robbing homesteads of their victims. Their target has been vulnerable people such as elderly living alone who are defenseless when attacked.

Kikonyogo says people such as Security Minister Jim Muhwezi performed excellently during his assignment as Director General of Security and Intelligence during the early years of National Resistance Movement (NRM) government. If Muhwezi acts with the same gusto as he used to do when he was Director General of Security and Intelligence, Kikonyogo thinks he would get Masaka bijambiya murders arrested in a short time.

Though police in Masaka last week said land wrangles could be the cause of current spate of murders in the region, Jim Muhwezi told parliament that investigations are ongoing and promised to table a report once they are complete.

Like Kikonyogo, opposition legislators have accused government of a lackluster response to the problem.

Leader of Opposition Mathias Mpuuga, who is the Nyendo-Mukungwe legislator, with other opposition legislators visited families of the victims on Sunday.

If government fails to stop murders in the next one week, Mpuuga warned, residents will have no other option apart from protecting themselves.

“We are giving government an ultimatum of another one week to contain these killings lest we form our own defence committees of youth to protect our people,” he said.

What is government doing?    

Starting this week, police says its Chief Political Commissar Asan Kasingye is camping in the region to “galvanise security against ‘bijambia’ criminals in the areas, offer support in terms of manpower, logistics and strengthen security.”

Kasingye is also expected to “improve on the readiness to respond to any acts of criminality in the region.”

Minister for Presidency Milly Babalanda also said last week she will be heading to the Masaka area to “assess the insecurity being reported there. I can assure Ugandans that the gov’t will wipe them out without any trouble this week.”

But Kikonyogo says ministers such as Babalanda aren’t the right personalities needed in Masaka and the resources they are wasting should be given to security agencies.

“Some of these ministers, I hear, minister for presidency is going there, what business do you have to do?” he asked. “Are you a security officer? The money you’re going to spend in hotels, give it to intelligence officers on ground.”

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