August 21, 2015
Government should quieten fears among Ugandans about enlisting jobless youth as crime preventers. A clear explanation by government should help answer queries and sort out the distrustful and negative perceptions about the current wave of recruiting crime preventers ahead of the 2016 general election. More worrisome is that a recent report says the 2016 election is anticipated to be more chaotic.
For now, Ugandans only pick up snippets of information about the shadowy grouping from the media. The group lacks clarity or distinctness, exposing it to speculation. The little known is that the crime preventers are overseen by the Police, and are drilled in military skills and patriotism and President Museveni is keen on having them linked to his office.
Police chief Kale Kayihura says the Force plans to draft at least 30 crime preventers in every single village in Uganda. The Police Training School, Kabalye in Masindi District, has so far passed out 12,000 of the numbers. Countrywide, the, Coordinator National Youth Crime Preventers’ Forum Blaise Kamugisha says five million have been trained. The numbers are expected to surge as the drive gathers pace.
But the fear expressed by Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga that the grouping is an NRM ruling party gangs is not isolated. The same concerns run through the common citizens, civil society organisations, and Opposition political parties. Mr Mpuuga’s likening of the grouping to those that were trained in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994, is worrisome. And this is why Mr Kayihura’s mere waving off these concerns as ‘confused’ won’t clear these questions and fears. Already, a recent study by Democratic Governance Facility fears mobilisation of the youth into groupings risks misuse to serve narrow political interests.
This is why government should clearly explain who the crime preventers are, how they are selected, and whether any qualifications are required before they are drafted. Also, citizens deserve to know on what matters these youth are drilled, how many have so far joined, or have been passed out. Also, how they are deployed, supervised, and retained. Government owes these explanations to citizens because they finance such trainings, operations, and upkeep of these crime preventers.
Government should assure Ugandans these youth are being drilled to maintain peace and not used as tools of violence in the 2016 elections.
The issue: Crime preventers
Our view: Government should assure Ugandans these youth are being drilled to maintain peace and not used as tools of violence in the 2016 elections.