Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Peoples Defense Forces -UPDF has finally come out to explain why Local Defense Forces-LDUs are deployed outside their areas of origin.
On Tuesday this week, social media was abuzz with a video of Mityana district chairman Joseph Luzige being assaulted by UPDF and LDU personnel.
In a written statement, Luzige said while he was moving in Mityana town, he found soldiers beating a woman at a roadblock after they caught her traveling on a boda boda contrary to standing orders on the spread of the coronavirus.
Another soldier was also trying to force a trader to close his shop before curfew time. Luzige said he had heard so many of such stories of security personnel harassing people as they enforced COVID-19 regulations. When he confronted them, they instead turned on him and his effort to identify himself as the chairman of the district fell on deaf ears. They eventually dragged him to Mityana police where he was identified and let free.
This video is among the many that have especially in the last three months gone viral where LDU personnel are seen assaulting helpless citizens. Acts like these according to Maj. Bilal Katamba, the spokesperson of the LDUs, blur the good things that the force has been able to accomplish especially its primary purpose of fighting crime.
Speaking yesterday to reporters at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala to express UPDF’s regret of the Mityana incident, Brig. Richard Karemire, the spokesperson, said LDUs mirror the society from which they come from. However, like Katamba, Karemire said they have been very instrumental in bringing peace and security across the country.
At the peak of killings in Kampala Metropolitan Area around 2017, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered for the recruitment of LDUs to stave off this criminality. According to Katamba, the force is now over 12,000 strong. But the questions on people’s minds are; how did districts like Mityana which are outside the Kampala Metropolitan Area end up with LDUs?
And if indeed they are local defense units like their name suggests, why are villages having LDUs who are from outside those villages like it used to be when the concept had just been introduced in the 1990’s. Katamba said there was change of the modus operandi this time round because of the lessons they learnt in the past.
He said unlike in the earlier years where LDUs were an auxiliary force that would primarily protect the villages where they come from, this time, they are a standing army that can be deployed anywhere around the country anytime basing on security needs.