Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament have tasked the army to explain the legal basis and sustainability of crime preventers in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
The MPs sitting on the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs were on Tuesday interfacing with officials from the Ministry of Defence, weeks after President Yoweri Museveni announced that crime preventers would be moved from the police and incorporated into the UPDF reserve force.
The Ministry of Defence officials were presenting their budget estimates for financial year 2018/2019.
Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo questioned the legality of President Museveni’s gesture, noting that there are clear ways for one to be called a member of the reserve force and that making a directive is not one of them. He tasked the Minister of State for Defence and Veteran Affairs, Bright Rwamirama, to specify under which law the crime preventers are operating.
According to Ssekikubo, the crime preventers do not have a belonging, but also lack the basics to be called or recruited into a reserve force. He says UPDF was very silent on the communication of the President.
Butambala County MP Muwanga Kivumbi questioned how the army would pay the over 12 million crime preventers, train them, and also ensure that they don’t turn into a rogue force.
He said the initial plan was to have each crime preventer get 100,000 shillings monthly. He said the strategic and tactical information about the future of crime preventers needs to be addressed.
Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak County MP, said UPDF was having its professional image spoilt since crime preventers do not meet the basic requirements of being in the reserve force. He questioned whether the UPDF was happy to take in crime preventers.
Minister Rwamirama said crime preventers are currently under transition from police. He said they are working out a way to ensure that the issue of crime preventers coming as a reserve force is actually legal.
Rwamirama said the UPDF will have to retrain crime preventers to choose those fit to join the army.
He said as UPDF they have no instructions to recruit the crime preventers, but only keep them under reserve force with no financial implication.
In March this year, President Museveni while meeting crime preventers declared that they were under the UPDF reserve forces. This came barely a month after the sacking of police chief Kale Kayihura who is considered the brain behind crime preventers.
Although they are meant to help with community policing, crime preventers have come on the spot for promoting crime, but at the same time being used in fighting political wars between government and the opposition.