The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have not deployed the Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel despite earlier pronouncements that they would be posted two weeks after passing out. President Yoweri Museveni passed out 6,239 LDUs at Kaweweta Military Training School in Nakaseke district on March 15. Four hundred eighty-five LDUs were female.
He said the force, which has been raised to beef up security in Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono, will be under the command and control of UPDF. The LDU recruits were given a two-week leave after the passing out ceremony with a promise that they would be deployed on their return.
The President said the recruits would be paid a salary for the four months they spent in training and that they would get it before deployment. Museveni said UPDF did not pay recruits, but a decision was taken to give the LDUs salaries because many of them have families.
“You are going to be deployed in the reserve forces but you will be active. Even when deployed in the reserves and are not active, we shall help you to do business,” he said.
The recruits returned to the training school about two weeks ago at the end of their leave, but have not been deployed to replace the 4,000 UPDF soldiers currently policing Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono. The army spokesperson, Brig. Richard Karemire, said the LDUs have to be properly documented and brought into the national defence system record before deployment.
“There is no problem. The recruits were required to gather at the training school after their leave for deployment. That is how it is supposed to be done. Otherwise, we would not ask them to assemble at the Constitution Square or Parliament. Now that they are back at the institution, deployment will soon take place,” he added.
The UPDF publicist did not give timelines for the deployment of LDUs, but said crafting a deployment plan was not an event.
“These are people who are going to earn a salary. We are going to dress and equip them. We are going to give them commanders. The arms they are going to receive must be documented. It is a systematic procedure and does not take a second,” Karemire said.
“After all, there is no need for a hurried deployment because another force is in the field discharging the duties which will be transferred to the LDUs once they are ready,” he added.
However, recently, the defiance ministry said there was no money to pay the LDU personnel. The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, said each LDU guard would be paid sh200,000 monthly.
The Government would need sh1.2b for the salaries of the LDUs per month and roughly sh15b per year. Appearing before the defence and internal affairs committee of Parliament before the LDUs were passed out, the state minister for veteran affairs, Bright Rwamirama, said there was no money in the ministry’s budget to take care of salaries for the LDUs.
However, Karemire said the LDUs had already been paid part of the four months’ salary and that the question of funds for their salaries was being addressed.
“Everything is okay. They will be deployed soon,” he added.
The President said deployment of LDUs to provide security around the city was an affordable method of securing Kampala and surrounding areas.
“The UPDF has already gunned down a number of criminals. You are a big force and can raise a whole division,” Museveni said,
“This is a robust force. The UPDF defeated terrorists in rural areas, but we had not paid much attention to the towns. Some people thought they could destabilize Uganda by attacking populated and busy areas in towns,”
The decision to recruit and train LDU personnel to beef up security around Kampala followed the killing of senior Police officers, Muslim clerics and an MP. The President said a closed-circuit television (CCTV) system was under installation in various parts of the city and on highways.
He explained that security agencies, including the Police, will continue to develop their capacities. According to the army, the LDUs will be the first line of response and defense against criminal activities in areas where they will be deployed.