Fellow Ugandans, state failure begins with failure to fight crime

Friday January 17 2020

I have elsewhere defined crime as the act of undermining an individual’s socio-economic life. Insecurity is caused by an act or acts or a situation that undermines state authority or renders it ineffective or weak to exercise the said authority.
The defining factor of state authority is power, capability and willingness to detect and fight crime. By deduction, state failure lies in the failure to fight crime. I have two testimonies to share with the police.

Testimony one
This is the testimony of Mr James Kabengwa: “Thieves broke into my house and got away with the whole interior of my car in the wee hours of January 11. I rushed to police for a sniffer dog and secured one which, after reaching the ‘crime’ scene, led us direct to a nearby village-mate, who is known to be a boda Boda rider.
Police kept him indoors as it claimed to be making further investigations. As I awaited updates on the matter, Mr Suleiman Kasozi, who I have understood to be the chief administrative officer (CAO) of Kisoro, found me at the police post and claimed he had come to bond out his brother.
I later discovered he meant the very suspect who the dog had identified to me and police. When he realised I was the complainant, the CAO openly said into my face: ‘power and money can only be defeated in heaven’. Mr Joseph Luyirika, the suspect, is out and his case file (with the Resident State Attorney) was closed for lack of evidence!”

Testimony two
This is a testimony on Mama Tendo Page: “My dears, I wanted to rent a bigger house so I get to this Ugandan site called Jiji (I think, former OLX). I was excited they had a variety of houses in different areas. I got this beautiful house that I liked. The person I contacted identified himself as Mr Katende with whom I talked on 0757345119.
Mr Katende told me the owner of the house was a doctor working at Mulago hospital. I talked to the said owner on 0706525133, and he really sounded so reasonable and gentlemanly. We agreed on the terms of the tenancy.
After securing the money, I called Mr Mulago Doctor to seal the tenancy deal. He told us (me and my partner) he had gone to hospital to attend to his clients and referred us to his son on 0770850262. Good thing we had met the son when we checked the property.
Because the so-called landlord’s son didn’t have a National ID, I took his photos with my smart phone. We then went ahead and signed a Tenancy Agreement and paid. The son issued me with a receipt. All seemed well. We didn’t get the keys because there were some few things on the house that needed to be worked on.
Later, we wanted to make some inquires. But all the numbers we had been calling during the transaction were switched off. After calling for several times, we realised we had been conned. Bang!”
Dear Uganda Police, these two cases are very straight forward cases that even an intern crime officer can handle.
Ugandans seem to be psychologically prepared to pay for police services. But it seems police services run on an ‘auctioneer model’. This is how I think things played out in testimony one: Mr James Kabengwa paid something to secure deployment of a police dog. And he felt confident police was on his side. Then Mr Suleiman Kasozi, (CAO, Kisoro) happened: he offered more than Mr James Kabengwa had offered. And in that single act of ‘crime and promise’, Uganda failed.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.