By Lawrence Kazooba
Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde has not left anything to imagination that he has a personal problem with the police force led by his comrade in arms Gen Kale Kayihura.
For almost a year, Tumukunde has not missed an opportunity to highlight how the police and particularly its head, Kayihura have failed to do their work professionally. He is like a man on a mission to pin point whatever his adversary does wrong, using every platform available!
Gen Tumukunde is right on one thing though; police is not where Ugandans want it to be. That fact not even Gen Kayihura, his boss Gen Yoweri Museveni also admit to this fact. There are still challenges in policing that each one of us needs to render their service to guarantee the safety of everyone. The only mistake Gen Tumukunde makes is turning the police outfit his petty subject. It makes it look like only police amidst islands of high performers, does a terrible job. That is not true. Almost every institution, as well as, each one of us, have weaknesses. It is only worse that one person is singled out to hip all our problems.
In Uganda today, there is a problem. Anybody dropping from mars and lands in Uganda, would think Uganda is a hell of a torture chamber, reading from newspapers, listening to radios and television as well as following social media! You might think every suspect in police cells has no nails, private parts, eyes or teeth left on them!
The talk about torture of suspects has made everyone forget the real existential threats affecting Uganda as a country and the common mwananchi.
Whereas culprits who torture people after arrest should be brought to book, but, we should not compromise national security by throwing out the baby with bathwater.
Unfortunately, police has since the killing of the police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi been grappling with finding the bad people who gunned down one of its top ranks. At this point, courts have not established who are the bad guys. Police has held some people it links the crime, and the killing of others like Joan Kagezi the senior government prosecutor who was killed in Ntinda last year, as well as Muslim sheikhs who have died over the years and the suspects are still on trial.
The blame game running in public forums are not doing Kaweesi and others any justice save for robbing it. Police has made some mistakes to hurt some individuals who had been arrested in the course of investigations, but that should be dealt separately away from pursuing the criminals who get away with murder. Police should take interest in its officers who manhandled the suspects, but, we should not keep our eyes off crimes such as broad-day murders.
The stories running around have made a gloomy picture of the country; everyone in one way or another is feeling tortured. There are also other pressing things in the country which need to be highlighted and discussed including the economy which is closing the financial year below 4% growth rate. Uganda Revenue Authority has already announced that it will not meet its tax collections targets despite announcing over Sh10 trillion in collections a couple of weeks ago. And yes, businesses are closing down weighed down by the bad economy, and thousands of people are losing their jobs, adding to the millions of jobless youth and old people across the country.
Yet what the country is entertained to for the past weeks are daily leaks of how different suspects were picked but were not the killers. Then comes torture images, etc.
Torture is bad. Torture is evil. No one deserves to be tortured.
In the aftermath of the death of Kaweesi, we were told that the president had assembled a security team to ensure the bad people are picked and made to face the law over their actions. We were told police, the Special Forces, the chieftaincy of military intelligence among others, were to bring the killers to justice.
The good press doing its watchdog role cannot close its eyes on the wrongs going on in the society, such as torture, but should ensure every suspect ends up in court who will decide whether to lock up or set free the people in the jails.
A good justice system will set free innocent people. And then, we shall ask the police, how come they arrested wrong people.
The police have been criticized for the work methods. Positive criticism is healthy, not demonizing the force.
And this is what I am reading.
Security minister Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, is supposed to work with colleagues in the security including people reporting to him such as police chief Gen Kale Kayihura. However, instead of summoning him to his office or other forums where they meet to discuss national security, the retired general has not shied away from showing his disdain for Kayihura.
I strongly believe the Ugandan society, including the media, is falling into a trap, of a war between the two generals that we know little about.
Tumukunde criticizing Kayihura’s every other move is suspect. And his motive could have been understood if the two men were both serving generals and or were competing at the same plane. However, the former is now a retired and minister, and the later is a serving officer. That Tumukunde, once a much feared military officer, is leading the chorus of those branding Kayihura a torture robot, says a lot about the two men. That is why some people might ask, did Tumukunde realize torture was evil just yesterday? His military record is open for everyone to review.
Kayihura’s undoing though is that he has been IGP for a long time, and that the police profile has risen with him at its helm. It is not clear if the ministry of security has all Gen Tumukunde wants to run in his docket or there is a part of his work being held within police dockets that it is itching him! But like presidential adviser Tamale Mirundi asks, why are people criticizing Kayihura on torture and not produce the commandant of Nalufenya where these atrocities are allegedly committed?
And Tumukunde to use his inside knowledge of some of the security operations gone wrong to undermine the entire security apparatus is in itself wrong, if not setting this country on a wrong path.
Independent magazine published on August 8, 2016 offered some insights into why Tumukunde will not stop at anything to bring Kayihura down. And Kayihura can only help himself by ensuring his force does the right policing work unlike what it has been doing in the past.
Also, it should sternly punish those that go against police doctrine as covering up for them will only increase the number of infiltration of wrong elements who will bring him down, whether he knows about their exploits or not.
Before I sign out, let me bring you what The independent wrote about Kayihura, Tumukunde beef:
Before Kayihura joined the police, it was at the bottom of the security agencies’ chain. The heads of bodies like the army and intelligence bodies like Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and External Security Organisation (ESO) were more influential than the police chief. However, in the over ten years he has headed police, he has turned this around.
The police chief is now more influential than even the army boss. Unlike the army chief, for instance, Kayihura directly controls an ever increasing police budget, directly appoints and transfers officers, and hitech equipment and motorised accessories, including newly acquired police helicopters, at his disposal.
While operations to deal with Besigye are seen as troublesome to many, to Kayihura, behind them is a budget.
For instance, in 2011, when demonstrations were more intense, the police fuel bill hit the Shs20 billion. Over all, Shs150 billion was spent on efforts and machinery related to quelling riots. In the annual budget performance report, it is indicated that the money financed, among others, the handling of 57 cases of public order, 49 cases of incitement to violence, six were election related, and one case was of promoting sectarianism, among others.
Generally, over the years, the police budget has been expanding. In 2008/2009, it was Shs131 billion, Shs167 billion in 2009/10 and Shs231billion in 2010/11 and about Shs500 billion in the last financial year.
The force has been growing too. According to police records, the force was 38,000-strong in 2009. Massive recruitment saw it expand to 43,000 in 2011.
But Kayihura also expanded the footprint of the Uganda Police into new territories like intelligence and counter-terrorism, which have also attracted major funding to the institution.
Salim Saleh’s hand
Kayihura’s handlers say the juicier his job has become and the more influential he has become, the more he has become the target of peers who want his job. They claim some of these are always on the lookout for an opportunity to lobby against him.
One of Kayihura’s known critics in the security establishment is Security Minister, Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde.
Tumukunde joined Museveni’s cabinet this year. His appointment is said to have been influenced by the President’s brother, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho, aka, Salim Saleh, who brought him back into the fold after he had spent an entire decade on the outside following a fallout and charges that resulted from publicly criticizing Museveni.
Some insiders say his appointment was a move to check the powers of Kayihura. Tumukunde and Kayihura fell out badly in the past, but their rivalry appears to have been rekindled last year following a clash in a meeting.
Tumukunde has openly criticized Kayihura over police brutality and also blames him for an incident in which he was shot at as he campaigned for his son Amanya Tumukunde. Amanya was up against Bright Rwamirama’s son, Mwine Mpaka in the contest for western youth MP. Mpaka won the race.