The call by Mbarara Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr Nickson Kabuye, to taxpayers to give money to police officers to do their work is misplaced, and outright wrong. Even as he represents the presidency, the RDC is not mandated to speak on behalf of the Uganda Police Force. His authoritative declaration usurps the power of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on police matters.
Mr Kabuye should also know the police are financed by taxpayers and mandated by Article 211((1), (2), and (3) of the Constitution to protect life and property, preserve law and order, prevent and detect crime, free of charge. Clearly, the same public that finances the police cannot again be the same cash cow the police should milk again and again.
So the RDC’s request that complainants ‘cooperate’, and give police officers ‘kitu kidogo’ – some form of inducement – or ‘fuel’ to enable them pursue expensive cases is ill-aised. This is tantamount to an endorsement of the common practice of kitu kidogo or chai to help the police to help complainants.
We aise the 61 freshly decorated police officers in the Rwizi region, western Uganda, to reject Mr Kabuye’s suggestion, lest they offend the Police Act, 1994. Schedule 2(e) of Obligations of police officers is categorical: “A member of the force shall — not receive any undue gratification for services he or she is expected to render by virtue of his or her employment”.
Regrettably, Mr Kabuye’s call would leave a thin line between asking for kitu kidogo or chai and the ‘litre of fuel’. This would worsen the petty and grand corruption already rampant in Uganda.
Worse, this ‘cooperation’ would open the floodgates for bribes. It would mean police officers, in their official capacities, can now demand, and accept bribes in the guise of asking for ‘facilitation’ of expensive assignments. Above all, this practice would compromise the Force and render it unprofessional, and undisciplined, because they will have to serve the common saying of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
Yet, Section 23, under corrupt practice, says “A police officer is guilty of corrupt practice if he or she—(a) solicits or receives any bribe or (c) directly or indirectly solicits or receives any gratuity, present, subscription or testimonial without the consent of the inspector.” The exception here is Section 71 of the Police Act, 1994, which allows “employment of police officers on special duty at the expense of private persons”.
In sum, no one should tempt our police officers to ask for bribes. Instead, they should be tasked to do what they are paid to do without inducements. Short of this, the Force would become an institution of something for something, and nothing for nothing.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor