In the most recent months the security situation in the country has deteriorated to threatening levels. There are projections that the country is at its worst levels of insecurity since the end of the five year civil war in 1986.
But the most alarming aspect of the insecurity in the country is that the man responsible for the security docket has not been questioned at all.
By the time of penning this article, that man in question, Gen Henry Tumukunde had convened the media at the president’s office, where he delivered a speech extoling the role of media in stabilizing the country.
Listening to him carefully, you get an impression of a contrite Tumukunde who had designed his working methodology on creating alliances with the media in particular (which he warmly referred to as the second in command in the fight against insecurity in the country.
Today I have come to tell you that it was a good gesture to praise the media, it was also erroneous and completely off the mark.
The unfortunate bit of it was that gen Tumukunde appeared as if he was lamenting about the state of affairs in the country and wanted the media to supply him with solutions.
You can also safely say that his interaction with the media was also a sign of his total failure to deal with the security situation in the country.
In countries where people work professionally, people in charge of security don’t make public appearances to lament about the deteriorating security situation. But they show up to explain situations and provide probable solutions.
In fact, when a catastrophe takes place, 10% of the time is spent on explaining the probable cause of it while the 90% is spent detailing the solutions. When America was hit by Osama Bin Laden in 2001, president bush did not lament but simply retorted that he was going to get them with or without the UN approval. That was the time when president bush also asserted that you were either with us ( the Americans) or against us (the Americans ).
But Gen Tumukunde spent 100% of his speech lamenting about the state of insecurity in the country and spent 0% on how he was going to deal with it. Instead he went on to co-opt the media as an important partner in the fight against insecurity.
The Media Reports Postmortem
Yet the reality is that while the media can be an important agent of disseminating vital information which can be translated into intelligence by the security agencies, its information is mostly 90% postmortem!
What I mean is that it’s very rare to find a media house that can preempt the occurrence of a crime.
What the media does is to report what has already happened –which explains why I have called it a postmortem.
For instance did the media report or warn that IGP Kaweesi would be murdered?
Not a single sentence was written to alert the country about the spate of killings that rocked the country in the aftermath of the Kaweesi murder.
But what happened is that the media wrote millions of articles as a postmortem about the Kaweesi murder.
Now Gen Tumukunde is telling the country it’s this same medias which is a defacto ‘second in command’ in fighting crime, oh dear me!.
That is not true at all.
As stated earlier, the media mostly engages in postmortem.
Gen Tumukunde’s Track Record
Am not saying that Tumukunde is incompetent. Am only saying that he seems to have run out of ideas on how to deal with insecurity in the country.
I actually hitherto knew Gen Tumukunde as one of the most competent officers the NRM had ever produced.
For instance in the late 90s there was a spate of city bombings in the country which threatened the core security of the urban areas in the country.
Those bombings were occasioned by the same group which the police alleges to be connected to the ADF and recent killings in the country.
But he managed to nip them in the bud through different measures which I will reveal in the latter stages of this article.
At one time we also had another challenge of armed robbers which he also managed to sniff out before they went out of hand.
It’s important to note that during those grim days, Tumukunde never rushed to embrace the media, but went direct to where the problem was.
After that, the country (apart from some parts of the north) enjoyed relative peace and stability.
What Went Wrong?
There are those who claim that the situation has deteriorated because the president heaped three four star generals; Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde (security minister), Lt Gen Jejje Odong (minister of defense) and Lt Gen Kale Kayihura (inspector general of police) in one docket of security.
The theorists allege that once you have such big wigs in one docket, it will suffer unexplained inertia.
I don’t want to agree or disagree with that theory, because it mostly dwells on hypotheticals and corporate assumptions but allow me to advance my own reason why the situation has deteriorated in the country.
During the early days of the NRM, the country was largely stabilized by the village leadership system locally known as the LC system.
In fact most of the rebellions were defeated by members of the local council leaders.
In Busia, Aggrey Awori’s rebel group killed so many village chairmen because they were the biggest obstacle in asserting the authority of government in those jurisdictions.
These LC leaders have managed to sustain president Museveni in power for so many years.
But for reasons which we cannot understand, the NRM government decided to dilute and eventually forget these village structures.
These village leaderships had been fortified by the local defense units which had locals guard their own backyards with guns. It’s these local defense units which eliminated insurgency in parts of Busia and Teso.
But the local defense system was also demolished and replaced with crime preventers who are not attached to the localities they work in. This has watered down the security vigilance we had in the past.
The Way Forward
It’s NOT rocket science to redeem the security situation in this country. I heard president Museveni suggest that surveillance cameras would stamp out criminal killers, oh dear me! What is this man talking about?
These cameras were installed on most streets of South Africa but have failed to stop criminals from killing people including the late Lucky Dube.
The solution therefore lies in an immediate empowerment of the village leadership with local defense units. Each village needs just a few guns to secure itself.
In fact if local defense units were still operational, there is a high chance that the Kaweesi killers would have been intercepted.
Therefore Gen Tumukunde should either resign, (which I highly doubt that he can do), or get back to the formula he used to deal with criminal elements in the past.
But most importantly he must first address the issue of village leaderships and the immediate institution of the local defense units to guard the villages.
Otherwise running to the media and giving flowery speeches will not stabilize Uganda.
I rest my case with a high possibility of being misunderstood.
The Author Fred Daka Kamwada Is Senior Journalist And A Blogger