Kampala-President Museveni’s Sunday night address to the nation has drawn mixed reactions from the public with some applauding his new initiatives on security while others poured scorn on them.
The President was addressing the country at a time of heightened public fear and anger following the brutal arrests and torture of Opposition leaders in the aftermath of the Arua by-election and Saturday night’s cold-blooded killing of senior police officer Muhammad Kirumira.
The killing was the latest in a string of high profile murders that remain unresolved.
In the nearly four-hour address, Mr Museveni said a 24,000 strong force of Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel and “crime preventers” will be deployed in the 1,000 or so villages that make up Kampala and Wakiso districts to end the killings and provide security to citizens.
He also said the procurement and installation of close-circuit cameras (CCTV) around the country will be expedited.
This was, however, dismissed by a section of political leaders as an old song that will not solve the current security problem.
“Arming crime prevents and LDU is very dangerous; it is going to create genocide in our country, it is going to create more insecurity in the country, it is not a good thought,” Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona said.
This was reechoed by Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Sekikubo, saying: “He is recycling the tested and failed systems; you cannot be on trial and error all the time. Now what new magic will the LDUs’ and reserve force come with?”
Bukanga County MP Stephen Kangwagye was, however, more supportive of the President.
“These are the things we have been talking about all along; the LDUs and reserve force are more on the ground than the police. If we work hand in hand with those agencies, we shall be able to know the real people who are doing these criminal acts in our society,” he said.
Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was dismissive of the proposals with its leader, Mr Patrick Amuriat, saying Mr Museveni needs to put his house in order before he starts talking about deploying LDUs.
“There is nothing that military and police have failed to do that the LDUs can fix. He should examine his intelligence, army and police force and there should be a discussion with key players on the security of this country,” Mr Amuriat said.
The President’s off-the-cuff remarks about the unemployment problem was also not well received by a section of the public.
He had blamed some parents for not planning for their children when the State had ensured they survive through a robust child immunisation programme.
“I have planned for my kids, they do not need jobs. They are busy looking after their wealth. Some parents have failed to plan for their kids and that is why they are jobless and that is why the State is planning for them,” he said.
Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, the executive director of the National NGO Forum, said the President should have been sensitive enough to know that many people are currently struggling to sustain themselves.
Mr Ssewakiryanga said many parents died during Uganda’s turbulent past and others were stripped of their property by government forces, and accusing them of not planning for their children will not help.
Ms Sarah Zaitun, a food vendor and an NRM women’s league member at Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb, described the remarks as unfortunate, saying such utterances will cause problems to the party in the next elections.
Ms Zaitun said many of them are either unemployed or are paid peanuts so they cannot save.
“This is the most unfortunate speech from Museveni. How does he expect people who have no jobs to plan for their children?” she asked.