Perspectives on the Creeping low-Intensity Insecurity

By Ofwono Opondo

April, 26,17

During the last one year there has been creeping low-intensity insecurity around the country, but mainly in Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, and what has infamously now become known as “Greater Masaka region” in the Uganda police’s geographical definition.  This area comprises Masaka, Rakai, Lwengo, Bukomansimbi and Kalungu districts.
While much of the insecurity incidences have been by social deviants and common criminals, a few have been high profile murders pointing to more organized syndicates that have left the country agitated particularly because police hasn’t brought some of these investigations and prosecution to logical  conclusion, or to the satisfaction of the wider public.   
According to opposition firebrands, this ‘insecurity’ is a bold sign that either the people are tired of President Yoweri Museveni and NRM government, or indeed the NRM is floundering on one of its most critical achievements which is peace and stability. It is this narrative that the above group led by Dr. Kizza Besigye would like to drum up essentially to generate fear and panic among local Ugandans, those in diaspora, as well as international community particularly foreign governments, tourists and investors.
Their hope is that if this scare-mongering succeeds, Uganda’s relatively stable and promising economy will fall to its knees, cause economic and social hardships, and thereby generate widespread local discontent against the government, and President Museveni. This, in their view would be the beginning of an un-stoppable “political tsunami,” they have been working on and praying for since the electoral defeat of 2006. It is important to note that often most opposition leaders speak of Uganda’s economic hardships with glaring glee on their faces as if celebrating the arrival of provender from heaven. Most of them don’t seem to appreciate that building Uganda into a sustainable and equitable enterprise is a collective effort preferring the simplistic mantra of blaming Museveni even for entrenched and century-old malaise.
According to the popular version, the insecurity is caused by local social perverts who have taken to drugs, alcohol and substance abuse allegedly because of the widespread family breakdown and poverty. The other is from local organized criminals mainly alleged unemployed youths who cannot find work to earn a decent living and therefore resort to blackmail, intimidation and harassment of their own local communities including relatives. In one such instance in Masaka, a youth is reported to have written a menacing letter to his mother-in-law demanding for money or-else she gets harmed or even killed. As result, when reported, the police laid a trap to arrest him and is now before courts of law which is commendable.
Last week the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura said police was investigating a possible connection between some politicians and criminal elements. There has been fairly credible information circulating that some of the insecurity trends especially the hostile propaganda of dropping leaflets with threatening content in Buganda region could be the handiwork of an extremist fringe of opposition groups. Besigye’s press conference on Thursday was an attempt to pre-empt this disclosure.
The main intention of this fringe group that includes some elements from the infamous political outfit, Power10 is to spread fear and undermine government credibility ahead of the forthcoming LC elections, and the anticipated constitution review process especially in rural areas known to be NRM strongholds.
Tactics include intimidation of some vocal MPs, LCV and opinion leaders, holding joint mobilization for political, religious, cultural and social activities, and distribution of hostile leaflets and other forms of propaganda using local issues through traditional and social media. Therefore, the recent call by Besigye that the constitution permits citizens to use violent means if inevitable to change government doesn’t come as a surprise. Equally, the evident hostile posture against government generally, and President Museveni in particular on the various media platform is part of the larger scheme of things yet to come. Fortunately government is aware of these mischievous schemes.
It is necessary to state that according to information available to government the current insecurity is localized mainly in the central region of Buganda which understandably enjoys over eighty percent of Uganda’s formal commercial activities, and therefore a lot of friction.
The police and local leaders especially those in local councils have done a commendable job at detecting crimes, apprehending suspects and bringing some to face justice including reconciling communities, but have been let down by the prolonged failure of government to organize village and parish council elections. While LC I and II officials exist on the ground, and their offices used regularly in everyday transactions, their legitimacy is constantly questioned and undermined by wrong elements and political adversaries hence whittling authority to enforce community discipline. As a consequence, nearly all LC I and II officials who constantly interact with the majority of the public who need their services, have resorted to transactional management styles charactirised by unprincipled compromises, favours, financial extortion or outright corruption.
So as the old adage goes “a stitch in time saves nine,” the government plan to hold these elections next financial year should be expedited so that LC leaders’ mandate and legitimacy is renewed and morale invigorated for the general public good.