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Thursday, April 24, 2014  
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By Arinaitwe Rugyendo
More Stories Here
  The Kivu Crisis: Why Rwanda Must Fight In DR Congo
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  Muhoozi: Looking at the positive side
  What Kamya Story Says About Ugandan Oppo
  What Will Kill The Opposition Coalition
  Do NRM Rebels Have a Point?
  What I Feel Is Buganda's Problem
  When Zuma Unmasked Africa’s Revolutions
  What Red Pepper Fire Says about Security
  Why Police Isn Fighting The Opposition
  What’s Behind The Rising Defence Budget?
  Why LRA Is Resuming War
  Press Freedom:Why Gov’t Secrets Leak
  Behind NRM Crack Down on The Media
  Why Kabila Is Spotting a Grey Beard
  Mayombo Legacy-One Year Later
  Why Uganda Is Mad At UN Over ADF
  What UTODA Riot Says About Our Politics
  Here’s LRA’s Next Move!
  Phone Tapping: The Inside Story
  Where’s The Spirit in Public Service?
Today's Topic:
What Red Pepper Fire Says about Security

By Arinaitwe Rugyendo
There is something fishy about the security of person and property in Uganda today. What could be the reason for this?

A few weeks ago, I held a long and passionate phone discussion with a very good friend, the spokesman of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), Maj. Paddy Ankunda.

Paddy is a young and very promising officer. He exudes an impressive record of civil-military work in Northern Uganda and the troubled coastal failed nation of Somalia.
Our discussion revolved around the welfare of the members of the UPDF and how it has a bearing on the security of the country. I said that as a civil-military expert, he had the patriotic duty of studying the dynamics within the socio-economic progress of the country and how those dynamics march the same progress within the UPDF.

I told him that if he discovered some imbalance that places the rank and file of the UPDF at the bottom of the food chain of the rest of the Ugandan society, then he should be worried of our security now and in the near future.
That week when we talked had been just a few days following an order by the Commander of the Land Forces, Gen. Katumba Wamala, to the effect that all senior officers of the UPDF must never be seen again traveling on 'motorcycle taxis', commonly known as 'Boadbodas.'

I told Paddy that my interpretation of this order was that no senior officer worth his decoration would enjoy a boda boda ride on his way to work. I said the problem therefore had something to do with welfare. I argued that poorly remunerated but highly trained soldiers living in the midst of a vastly prospering city and the country at large, many with minimal hopes of ever retiring into some form of economic stability that can secure their future, was a very dangerous precedent.

I revealed to him that in the last 10 years alone, I have chanced on many retired soldiers, some of them deserters, leading miserable lives in the city. Reason? The army system does not have some formal arrangement in which its retiring soldiers can have a meaningful life outside the military.

Their retirement packages are usually miserable. They don't buy them a house and guarantee school fees for their children, yet they are expected to march the progress of a society whose stability they have struggled so much to build.
As a result, many of them are idling in the city, living a very hard life. But unknown to their superiors is the fact that with their sophisticated training, they are potentially dangerous, ready to carry out any activity that can guarantee a few coins in their pockets.

They probably have come to realize that the wider society has progressed possibly on account of their patriotic activities on the frontline and yet this very society cannot adequately look after them. Even their comrades who are still serving share the same view.
Many of them are as well-read as their peers in civilian life, but their pay and reward for work done is comparably miserable.

So when gunmen numbering about 15, armed with pistols and very sophisticated assault rifles, attacked and torched the premises of the Red Pepper last Saturday, destroying newsprint, the factory building and the powerhouse, there was reason to believe these were not ordinary arsonists. The military precision with which they carried out this attack and which the Minister of Information and National Guidance, Kirunda Kivejinja, described as a 'Sandhurst-rehearsed military coup,' had the hallmark of soldiers' involvement, hired or ordered to either kill or be killed for as long as they perfected their economic sabotage on The Red Pepper's production line for a penny.

And for soldiers to be freely at will to carry out such acts means that in their sub conscience, the feeling that life in the civilian world would be better off, will continue to inform and provide clues to why people are losing their lives and property to gun-wielding men.

With profound anger, I brought these arguments before Paddy and put it him that some elements in his forces are suspects. He said I needed to 'go very slow on some of these things' because we are all stakeholders. What ever that meant, it's now a week since the incident Red Pepper but the military has not rushed to a scene, where an armed aggression was staged, to pick the glaring camera recording evidence.

Today, it's fashionable for people to employ the services of members of the armed forces and the security apparatus to settle personal scores, land disputes and failed relationships.

I have been told of how a young man was recently tortured in a facility for days just because he was competing with someone in the security services over a girl.

It took the intervention of a patriotic citizen who brought the matter to the attention of the Chief of Defence Forces before the boy's life could be spared.

Those who have business scores to settle seem to use similar means of intimidation. The more than 30 fires that have gutted schools since this year began have a motive of an economic nature.

But as the Red Pepper video clue shows, people who want to eliminate their business rivals or cause economic havoc to their businesses have easily found a willing service provider in the idle members of our armed forces.
I have been told by friends in the police force that a person's life in Uganda today can cost just about 100,000/=

As long as the gap between civilians and the armed forces continues to widen in terms of welfare, and for as long as that welfare in the civilian divide does not reflect significant progress in the welfare of the armed forces, armed members of our society will remain serving as the definition between who owns what, where and when.

Until the attack on Red Pepper, we did not know there would be a silver lining to every dark cloud that has hovered over the mysterious fires that have left innocent school children dead and millions worth of property destroyed. That silver lining came when the worthless Red Pepper attackers did not know our living God was recording their crime on our cameras.

For the many innocent lives lost and property destroyed, we hope our spirit will prevail and theirs (attackers) and that of their sponsors suffers a very painful punishment.


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Why Police Isn Fighting The Opposition

By Arinaitwe Rugyendo

Last week, over 200 youths were arrested and screened in the towns of Masaka and Fort Portal for different crimes.

Fort Portal alone had the highest number at 150 and Masaka recorded about 80 youths.

The police version of these swoops is that they are hunting for criminals. While we may agree, we cannot entirely dismiss other hidden reasons especially when we look at the scope and pattern of these swoops operation.
First, the Fort Portal region borders the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the main security threat to Uganda remains. Has this threat spilled over?

Secondly, operations in Masaka and other major towns including Kampala could mean that the wave of urban criminality has some hidden face to it.
To understand these two points, we shall examine the police response and behavior towards rallies and other city political assemblies which many have come to describe as brutal.

Where rallies by the opposition have been staged, the police has had to violently disperse them or heavily deployed to stop them.
To date, scores of policemen deployed at the headquarters of the Democratic Party have refused to vacate until the party relocates from the city centre. Very tight night patrols by police have also been intensified in the city.
There cannot be a better explanation other than the fact that our security system could be threatened.

Thus, since we started examining the secrets behind the much-hyped police brutality last week, two contending views have emerged to explain it.
One school of thought says it is state inspired to weaken the opposition. The other one says the semblance of peace in the country has ushered in a sense of laxity paving way for infiltration by wrong elements with urban warfare tactics.

I will go for the latter view because I believe that weakening the opposition using brutal force, as the former view seems to suggest, is counter productive on the part of the state.

Television pictures of police 'teargasing' members of the opposition can only serve to strengthen it by granting it undue publicity and possibly unnecessary international attention while alienating the regime.

So, going for the latter means that indeed, there is something beyond the heavy patrols, the violent teargas and the heavy police deployment to many parts of the city than we are able to fathom.

It is highly likely that because of suspected infiltration by rebel elements under the guise of criminals, the government does not want to deploy the army on the streets and in the villages because it knows such a step would cause panic in the population. It would also be interpreted to imply that the country is in a state of war.

So the most intelligent thing to do is to deploy police in order not to scare the general public and investors.
But behind their lines is a well coordinated squad of different intelligence agencies providing the police with vital information on criminals and rebels who could be in our midst.

That is why while carrying out their operations these days, most especially dispersing opposition rallies, the police carry out their missions in a combat mood because they know the kind of enemy they are either targeting or pre-empting. Even police foot patrols have lately exhibited a formation common on war frontlines. This means that other than the opposition, we are facing a different and possibly sophisticated enemy in the city.

And the kind of enemy that has been associated with urban operations has been the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
There are two scary actions that have been witnessed in the past two months worth our conversation.

These are; the school fires and the killing of innocent urbanites whose belongings are never taken by their killers.
Some information has been filtering in to the effect that ADF rebels have hundreds of operatives within the country and some of them could be responsible for the killings and the fires. They also seem to have the capacity to cause more havoc during the confusion and the chaos created by riotous political crowds.

This is the understanding of the change of tactics in the way police has been handling civil matters.
The several killings of innocent civilians and the fires could be an aggregate of a possible fresh tactic being used by the anti-government forces.

The ADF was previously associated with throwing bombs around, a tactic which heavily damaged their credibility. The cost was that they were automatically branded terrorists.

Today, it's a different story. If the ADF must have credibility and be seen as freedom fighters, they have one option- to avoid throwing bombs around because these tools can easily be linked to them.

So, by using fires and mysterious killings, they have their cards right because the security apparatus finds it hard to link such actions to them.
Instead, these actions portray the state as incapable of protecting its citizens and the property, which plays well into the hands of the opposition and thus help to advance the cause of the anti-government elements.

This is why the police could be fighting a different enemy from the one we see rioting on the streets.

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