Mixed reactions as UPDF mobilizes reserve forces into active service ahead of 2021

updf spokes person
Uganda's army spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire.

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), has embarked on mobilizing reserve forces throughout the country so that they can have well-co-ordinated structures of operations within the communities they live in.

Lt. Gen. Charles Otema Awany, the commander of the Reserve forces, made the revelation while addressing security stakeholders from the three sub-regions of Acholi, West Nile and Lango, at the launch of the mobilization and documentation exercise of the reserve forces in Gulu municipality, on Monday.

Awany noted that the structure of operation for the veterans, local defense units and the other can auxiliary forces, such as the crime preventers, arrow boys and amuka boys, is lacking. “We have 11million crime preventers in the country and, if not mobilized and put under structures, they will be less effective.

“Establish their number per district and make them readily available for any deployment,” Awany said.

The commander explained that they needed to be prepared through training that can be held once, annually, but also report to the sub-county every three months, so that they are active and known.

He added that while the training for the district leaders for crime preventers has already been done, the focus will be on the rest at the district level. Awany said it would commence with the documentation process, which will be overseen by the commander in charge of reserve force at the regional level and their particulars kept with the office of the Resident District Commissioner (RDC).

Awany, who was meeting security stakeholders comprising senior UPDF and Police officers, RDCs and Internal Security Organisation officers, said some crime preventers were performing well and, that if they are in structures, the element of indiscipline will be eliminated.

He, however, noted with concern that some have gone overboard to work like the Police by arresting criminals, and extracting statements from the Police. Brig. Gen. Steven Kasura, the director of the National Leadership Institute, in Kyankwanzi district, said crime preventers are called a name which they do not understand.

However, Kasura noted that if a crime occurs and yet their cardinal role is to prevent a crime, then they have failed in their work. “In foundation security, popular vigilance is key. Change the way you work.

“As long as you want to arrest people, it means you want to be seen at that means you have failed. You are supposed to work undercover,” he elaborated.

“We have concerns of suspects being released on Police bond after being reported by crime preventers. “It is better you first explain the basis under which a suspect is going to be released.

“Otherwise, that is why the community ends up taking laws into their hands because they feel their effort is going to waste,” he added.

He advised that the concern by the Police that crime preventers are interfering in their work is uncalled for, adding that, since they are just volunteers of information, there is need, instead, to engage them.

Awany also scoffed at RDCs who take part in carrying out operations, carrying guns and arresting suspects, explaining that their role is to only give directives to District Police Commander.

“Our other sister branch, the ISO, is so well informed about security issues. “But the challenge is, they take themselves to be above others. I would wish to see them come down and start passing that knowledge to other security structures,” he advised.

Omara Olweny, the Kole RDC welcomed the move, saying it will help in capturing file numbers of veterans and giving a face of recognition to crime preventers

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Muwanga Ronald is editor in chief of the UGANDANZ news website. He was formerly editorial director of UGANDANZ.COM, overseeing the publication’s digital operations. Before joining UGANDANZ in December 2018, Ronald was managing editor of NILE HOST In 2014, he was a finalist for the UJA Awards for Young Journalists for his reporting on the women's emancipation. Under his leadership NILE HOST won Media Industry Newsletter's Best of the Web award in 2018. A graduate of Makerere University, Ronald speaks Luganda and French and lives in Kampala with his wife and two children.