Last week I received an unusual invitation from the Uganda Police.
It was not the usual summons requiring me to report to the Special Investigations Unit at Kireka, but an invitation card to attend a party.
Signed by the deputy Inspector General of Police, JM Okoth Ochola, the card was inviting me “to a party to be held in honour of General Kale Kayihura in recognition of his promotion and achievements made by the Uganda Police Force.”
The party was supposed to take place on Friday June 14, at Lugogo Cricket Oval. This party, by the way, followed a procession of boda boda riders, and hundreds of policemen/women on Kampala streets, in honour of this most wonderful IGP the country has never had.
And if you missed, there was another party in honour of Kayihura’s promotion to the rank of general by policewomen at the police’s Forensic Laboratory in Gulu late last month. Probably there will be another party by all suspects in police cells to celebrate the promotion of Kayihura.
But before I delve into the main subject matter of my column today, let me make a disclaimer – I nurse no grudge against the wonderful IGP but I have a duty, at least a journalistic one, to help the public understand why his latest conduct.
This is not the first time that Kayihura is being promoted by the military. In fact, he had been a brigadier and a military assistant to the commander in chief in 2005 when he was appointed IGP and promoted to major general.
Along the way, he received another rank – Lieutenant General - and there were no national celebrations in his honour. Why then did he stage all these celebrations this time?
Anyone who follows Ugandan politics ought to remember that Kayihura’s latest promotion almost came as an afterthought. Gen Museveni presented to us a list of changes he had made in the military, including promotions and appointments, without the name of Kayihura.
He had received his previous two promotions on the same day and hour, like his other colleagues. This time round Kayihura’s promotion came almost two days later, after the announcement of all the other changes.
Truth is, Kayihura is a key pillar in the Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba project. And for that, he was supposed to have been promoted to the rank of General and appointed Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), because Gen Aronda Nyakairima was not being supportive of the project.
By coming out to allege that Kayihura was part of the axis that wanted to eliminate all those opposed to the Muhoozi project, Gen David Sejusa pre-empted both his promotion and new deployment. Sejusa caused panic but President Museveni being Museveni, wanted the public to believe he was not bothered. He was only betrayed by his action.
It is these circumstances that forced Kayihura to stage the unprecedented parties. The man wanted to judge his rating in society. Those antics aside, the real issue is the cost of maintaining the Museveni presidency and all its suitors, Kayihura being one of them.
The ordinary policeman and woman live a hopeless life. Jinja road and Kira road police stations had the best planned and well-constructed residential houses, but they have all caved in because of three decades of neglect.
At Kampala Central Police Station, only Andrew Felix Kaweesi has a functional office fully equipped with Dstv, while the rest of his colleagues are without basic things like photocopying paper. At Kireka Special Investigations Unit, the cops sleep like goats.
Only the other day, electricity and water were disconnected from all their self-constructed structures. Reason? They are illegal structures within the barracks.
And yet the police budget keeps growing. On the day I picked the invitation letter from my pigeonhole to attend Kayihura’s party, I also picked a copy of the supplementary budget for various government departments, including the police.
Mind you, about two weeks ago, we (Parliament) passed the first batch of the supplementary expenditure (schedule 1) in which we gave police an additional Shs 22bn. In last week’s supplementary budget, police was requesting for another Shs 19bn.
The entire police budget approved by Parliament was Shs 295bn. These two supplementary budgets mean the police budget will add up to about Shs 330bn. Do you know what the money does? The IGP has a motorcade of four vehicles, and now he is throwing one party after another, as though he was a Bad Black of sorts.
And to justify the expenditure, he blamed opposition activists, riots, walk to work, etc. That is the information that is contained in the Semi-Annual Budget Performance Report 2012/13 that ministry of Finance has just released. Men, our country is under siege.
The author is Kyadondo East MP.