By Kenneth Lubogo
Many opinions have been advanced as to whether or not UPDF should be involved in the operations of government departments.
Most opinions have been put forward especially by the opposition that the Government has militarised the state, that the UPDF will, as a matter of course, assume a biased/partisan position and that it is contrary to the UPDF act for the army to be involved with such programmes as NAADSAA.
On the face of it, it appears right to contend as above but the issue of legality is most crucial.
However, the Constitution in article 2(2) states that any law is void to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Constitution.
Under Article 209(d), it is provided that among the functions of the UPDF, is to engage in productive activities for the development of Uganda. The question that arises here is, “what are these productive activities referred to here?”
Clearly from that part of the Constitution, it is seen that the UPDF does more than fighting. One would also wonder whether, if there is no war or disaster for say 10 years, the UPDF would remain doing nothing.
The constitutional makers were clearly deliberate in their inclusion of this other function for the UPDF also. They may not have intended that where corruption control has failed, the UPDF will be deployed.
But they intended that the army is available for other assignments other than fighting. Therefore, even if NAADS was functioning well, the Government would still be right to involve the UPDF in distributing seedlings.
Certainly, the assignment of distributing seedling fits well in Article 209(d). The challenge should only be that the technical people should be available to train and advise the farmers.
I think the assumption that the UPDF will soon be deployed in schools and hospitals is merely alarmist. But even then, what would be wrong with deploying UPDF to hospitals, if the assignment is say to scrub the floors or wash the roof tiles and the like! Or in the works department, if the assignment is to clear road side bushes!
I compare distributing seeds in agriculture to aiding push a patient in a wheel chair. Should we say that it should be medical professionals to help push a patient in a wheel chair? Any Good Samaritan can do this.
By participating in NAADS, the UPDF is simply executing its constitutional mandate.
The above, notwithstanding, the UPDF should not and cannot be the solution to fighting corruption. While fighting corruption is also a war, it is not the gun bearers to fight it.
The anti-corruption agencies should be strengthened to curb the vice.
One surely wonders why the executive director of KCCA should earn more than 10 times the IGG or the Chief Justice.
The institutions which check the efficiency of our resource use logically, among others, deserve earn better than or evenly with those they are supposed to check.
The writer is MP, Bulamogi County- Kaliro district