Soft spoken but tough officer

Sunday March 8 2015

Polly Namaye during the interview. Photos  by

Polly Namaye during the interview. Photos by Abubaker Lubowa. 

By Lydia Ainomugisha

She has a tight work schedule. It is almost impossible to see her. Polly Namaye Bagambaki is the Deputy spokesperson of the Uganda Police Force.
On a visit to her office, a queue waits to be attended to by Namaye. Despite the fact that it is already past 5pm, she maintains a calm demeanour as she attends to everybody. When it is our turn, she beckons us into her office and shares a photo moment with us. From her smile and how she freely interacts, one can’t help noticing her playful side.
If looks are anything to go by, Namaye’s serene nature can lead one to think she is docile but that’s far from the truth as a further interaction reveals.
“I’m calm and a good listener but not easily bullied. I have been a leader throughout school and I have had to push for what is right sometimes even against the odds.”

Tough incident
The most memorable incident was when she disagreed with some colleagues over culture matters while still working in Mbarara Municipality.
It was a case of a woman who had continuously reported domestic violence to police and later left her marital home. Her father sold a piece of land and even the church fundraised towards her treatment, but she passed on before the money could be raised. The widower demanded for the body to be buried at his home on cultural grounds, but Namaye disagreed and did some research in law books to back her arguments before her colleagues in a meeting. Meanwhile the body was taken to a mortuary until the state attorney ruled in the deceased father’s favour.

Police women’s unique challenges
For the time, she has been in police, she says women face unique challenges while on duty but they should always know that there is no easy job.
“Women work up to eight months of pregnancy because if they take leave early then part of their maternity leave is reduced,” she says. But she is quick to add that when the force realises that you are weak, they assign you to lighter work.
Despite the hardships, she advises women not to sit back but aim for lead positions. “While growing up, my father used to tell us that women can do better than men so why not,” she explains with a smile.

Being a wife, mother and police officer
The mother of two is at times at cross roads. “Being a mother and holding a public office involves a lot of sacrifice. My phone may ring at 3am and my husband asks who is calling. About the same time, my child may be tossing and turning in bed and needs to be cuddled or covered but I cannot ignore the phone because someone could be in trouble,” she explains.

Joining the police
Though now passionate about her work, Namaye says she never dreamt of being a police officer or never knew anything about the police while growing up.
“Because I have always loved to serve people, I picked interest in police work after realising that every injured person or one who has faced some form of injustice reports to police and envisaged myself helping to solve those problems.” Then, she was at Makerere University and watched several incidences including strikes.
After University in 2006, she applied to Ministry of Education for a teaching position and shortly after applied as an officer cadet. She did both interviews but the education results came out first. She was put on the government payroll and deployed in Kyenjonjo District, but after six months, the police results were released. She made a transfer of careers and embarked on police training that involved law, academics and internship from September 2007 to December 2008.

The training
She describes the training as hectic to the extent that they even lost a friend; Rose Akello after she miscalculated a step, had a bad fall and suffered internal bleeding.
“The training takes a lot of personal decisions and team work. This is why we don’t take a person with any disabilities and illness for trainings,” she explains.
As senior superintendent of police from 2009 she served as the Mbarara Municipality regional police spokesperson until April 2014 when she was transferred to police head office in the officer of the commissioner of police as an acting assistant commissioner of police and deputy for the press and public relations office.

“My principle in life is to do my part. I take my responsibilities seriously and expect others to do their part,” Namaye says. She talks about issues that are disappointing but at times ignores them when she thinks they have been done deliberately.

Fact file
Namaye was born in Kabale district to Anne and Dr David Kabalega.
She attended Kabale primary school where she was head girl.
Went to Maryhill High School for O-level and Bweranyangi Girls’ School where she served as an anvironment prefect and deputy head girl respectively.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of education from Makerere University and a postgraduate diploma in Human Resource from Uganda Management Institute.
She is married to Richard Bagambaki and they have two children.