The Uganda Police Force has just completed the exercise of recruiting 4,000 Probation Police Constables (PPCs) and 650 cadets. The lists of these new recruits have been published by this newspaper these past two days.
A critical analysis of the lists, however, reveals a gap in regional distribution of the slots. Take the example of Ntungamo District, with a population of 469,000, it was assigned 12 cadets, whereas Mubende, whose population is 588,300 got only eight cadet positions.
The numbers raise more eyebrows when it comes to even smaller districts like Kiruhura (290,000) which got eight cadet slots and Kisoro (250,000) that took 11 cadet positions. A district like Kabarole with a population of 409,000 got nine slots—two less than Kisoro! It is even worse when it gets to districts like Bugiri and Buikwe.
One of the demands placed on the Uganda Police Force by Article 211 (3) of the Constitution is that it should have a national character. To operationalise this clause and attend to increasing concerns that the police was lacking in national outlook, the Force three years back introduced the quota system where slots would be assigned to districts in line with the population.
In asking therefore that the Police ensure equity in their recruitment, we are not reinventing the wheel. We are simply asking it to play by the rules it set.
We are alive to the history of our security forces and how this could have influenced their original composition. That the armed forces were dominated by people from one region was not surprising, seeing that these regions served as the cradle for the liberation wars.
However, 30 years later, that cannot be the excuse for having a Police Force still struggling with regional imbalances. The argument by the new Police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga, that some of the districts end up with fewer numbers of candidates because people do not show up is simply laughable.
That is why he could not explain why prospective recruits were turned away in districts that now are under-represented.
The spirit of regional balancing is good, the Police Force must now find the will to implement it.