KALE, FOR MORE THAN A DOZEN YEARS. Gen Edward Kale Kayihura, popularly referred to as Kale is no longer the Inspector General of Police. Last Sunday, news infiltrated social media platforms that Kale had been replaced by his six-years deputy, Martins Okoth-Ochola. GILLIAN NANTUME brings you the highlights of what we will miss about the General, some tongue in cheek.
As these things go, the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kale Kayihura comes from stately folk. How many officers can boast having an independence hero for a father?
The way it is told, in the late 1950s, his father’s shrewdness was only comparable to that of Apollo Milton Obote and Paulo Muwanga. In 1954, the militant John Kalekezi (Kale) came up with a violent plan to prevent Queen Elizabeth II from visiting Uganda to celebrate 60 years of British colonial rule in the country. The plan went burst.
Sixty-four years later, while everyone is performing a postmortem on Kayihura’s 12 years at the helm of the police force, there are a few things – unique to him – that we will miss.
Sneaking into parliament
On Wednesday, the new Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola and his deputy Brig Muzeyi Sabiti majestically walked into the Parliament building in the full view of the cameras. This kind of took the sting out of it and signalled a reversal.
When Gen Kayihura last had his contract renewal approved by Parliament, in November 2017, he stole into Parliament driving in a regular saloon car, and then “hid” in the Parliament library for a few minutes.
Journalists had to be tipped off that the man who was due to have his fifth, three-year term as IGP renewed was hiding from them. By the time they learnt of this, he was already before the Appointment’s Committee and perhaps planning to sneak out.
After meeting the committee, Gen Kayihura hid in an office, still trying to shake off journalists. Then he disappeared into another office as the journalists blocked all exit routes. Later, he rallied all his courage and stood before the pressmen and women. In any case, even amidst all the adversity, he had his new contract in hand.
No one can cut a forlorn and dejected figure like Gen Kayihura; the crestfallen look, the veins threatening to pop out of his face, and sometimes, looking down with his chin in his hand or with his hand scratching his bald pate. Just looking at him was enough to make one dizzy with scorn; well, that is, until he finally conceded that he was tired of making promises to apprehend criminals. Remember the look on his face when a Kifeesi thug claimed at a press conference that his crew worked with police officers to terrorise the public?
Fanfare at promotion
How many Generals celebrate their promotion in style? This is a man who does not hold back when it comes to rubbing it in. When he was promoted to full General on May 25, 2013, Gen Kayihura led a procession from Mbuya to Parliament Avenue. It is hard to imagine such a thing happening today. Five days earlier, armed police had closed down Monitor Publications Limited premises. Among those who waved at Kayihura as he passed by were the displaced Daily Monitor journalists. Maybe when, or if, Brig Sabiti becomes a General we will have fireworks.
Moneyed police force
The police headquarters in Naguru is a lasting monument to Kayihura. The unkempt grass surrounding the building is probably a strategic operational tactic. If you are a big time criminal planning to attack the building, you just have to look at the grass and cut your losses. What valuables are hidden in such shabby surroundings?
Like never before, and never again, many people in Kampala and Wakiso tasted that endless police cash. Just ask the sex workers who were incorporated into the police intelligence arm or the army of crime preventers that is bidding its time.
Upside down policing
In these sad times, we got a laugh out of the fact that known murderers are released from police custody or Luzira Prison under unclear circumstances. This is a police force that never shied away from learning the bad habits of criminals. In Mbale, sniffer dogs left the scene of crime, following the scent of the robbers, and led the investigators to Nakaloke Police barracks. In other countries, criminals hide in the woodwork, but in Uganda, they hold press conferences and demand to meet with the IGP.
Opposition to burn Kampala
For years, Kayihura has fed us on a rhetoric about credible intelligence (sometimes he said he had “concrete evidence”) that unnamed members of the Opposition were planning to burn Kampala City. Why these people were never apprehended and prosecuted is a mystery. Then, the rhetoric was refined – they were planning to burn petrol stations. And when it came to the debate to remove presidential age limits late last year, Gen Kayihura discovered ahead of time that the Opposition were planning to burn Parliament.
Surely, we will miss the man who made the word Nani famous. For many months, some people will long to hear the phrase, “Nani, you give him a million shillings.”
Brighter Police uniforms
Sometime back, while we were still stuck on the ugly khaki uniform, in 2010 we woke up to fashion parade of 16 sets of uniforms. In fact, such was the alarm caused by the madoa doa (blue camouflage) uniform that the public thought the police had turned into the army. Julius Odwe, the deputy IGP, had to publicly apologise for the force’s failure to inform us about the new uniforms.
The uniforms are a far cry from the days before independence when native officers wore khaki shirts and shorts, black socks that started at the knees and stopped at the ankles, and no shoes.
Suddenly, the police became filled with beautiful officers. Whether they can actually police or not is another piece of cake. If you are stuck in the traffic jam at Clock Tower in the morning, just let your eyes wander to the caramel-coloured officer with three pips standing on the pavement, with a pistol at his waist. I think the white traffic uniform accentuates his muscles. Then, there is the officer who normally hangs around Kajjansi Police Station, just before the roundabout. Even Aaron Baguma used to be ‘hot’, before he got embroiled in a murder trial. Where did the pot-bellied lot disappear to?
Every election cycle, the police acquired sophisticated anti-riot trucks to combat stone-throwing rioters. There is the curious black strategic operations vehicle that seems out of place in Kampala whenever it is parked at Parliament, downtown, or outside the Catholic Shrine in Namugongo on Martyr’s Day. What happened to the blue side cars (were they motorcycles?) procured in 2016? To match the equipment, police has a bomb squad, crisis response team, and a number of engineers, forensic scientists, and ICT scientists. What do these people actually do?
No crime reports
For the last three years, the police has not issued a single crime report. Through it all, at a time when Bodaboda 2010 was the major investigative arm of the police, Kayihura assured us that the situation was not as bad as the media made it out to be. According to him, crime was on the decline. It did not matter that nowadays, taking a walk in your neighbourhood after 7pm is tempting fate. Or, that if you are caught up in traffic jam, whether your car doors are locked or not, you are a sitting duck, waiting to be robbed.