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Will Usalaama end insecurity

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th March 2007 03:00 AM

A village security plan code named Usalaama, that was organised by the Police and local leaders, has taken off in Kampala and many parts of the country. It was started as a result of the high rate of insecurity in the city.

Will Usalaama end insecurity

A village security plan code named Usalaama, that was organised by the Police and local leaders, has taken off in Kampala and many parts of the country. It was started as a result of the high rate of insecurity in the city.

By Joshua Kato

A village security plan code named Usalaama, that was organised by the Police and local leaders, has taken off in Kampala and many parts of the country. It was started as a result of the high rate of insecurity in the city.

Local Councils (LCs)
Local leaders are responsible for the maintenance of security in their areas. For example, the LC5 chairman is a member of the district security committee, chaired by the Resident District Commissioner (RDC). The LC3 chairman is a member of the sub-county security committee chaired by either an assistant RDC or a sub-county internal security officer. The LC1 chairman and the secretary for defence are responsible for security in their villages.

“We identify new people in the village and register them. We do this for security purposes. We sometimes carry out patrols with security personnel in the village,” says Henry Ssenyonga, the defence secretary of Dungu LC1 Zone.

If a suspect is arrested in the village, local leaders are supposed to sign a letter referring the suspect to the Police.

When LCs were first formed in 1986, they were asked to identify at least two disciplined people. Those people were given guns, a light blue uniform and referred to as local defence forces.

They would pick guns from the nearest police station every evening before reporting for duty. Their salary was got from village collections.

It was agreed that every household contributes towards security. “We used to collect sh200 from every home before dividing it among ourselves,” says Musa Mwanje, a former Local Defence Unit (LDU) officer. “LDUs had their villages at heart. They knew every corner of the village and their patrols were effective,” says Erias Bbosa, a former LC1 chairman. However, at the peak of robberies in the country between 2000 and 2003, some of the LDUs were said to collaborate with the thugs. Col Elly Kayanja, who led Operation Wembley) a crackdown on armed thugs), arrested a group of LCs and LDUs from several places, including Kisenyi in Mengo after they were implicated in robberies.

Around the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs changed the administration of LDUs. “We had earlier lobbied the Government to take over management, including remuneration of LDUs,” says Ferua Andama, the LC5 chairman of Arua district.

As a result, the name changed from LDU to Special Police Constables because they were under the control of the state.

Usalaama
A year ago, local leaders complained that they wanted the Police to be deployed because villages did not have an in-house armed security system. A decision was then taken to train disciplined personnel under Usalaama.

Hundreds of youths have been trained and passed out under the system. Many of them have already been trained in Rubaga, Kawempe, Makindye and other suburbs. Training for one month covers community policies, handling weapons and physical fitness.

The Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, passed out 302 Usalaama officers from Kawempe last week. He said because policemen were few, they could not keep security in the villages effectively.

“These people who are passing out today will assist in keeping security in their villages,” he said. “I think this measure will go a long way in ensuring that there is security in villages,” says the Rubaga Division LC3 chairperson, Winnie Makumbi. Over 300 youths in Makindye have been trained.

“It is important that we have our own security personnel. We have had cases of mugging because LDUs were taken away,” says Bernard Walusimbi, the LC1 chairman of Kanisa zone, Kawempe.

Walusimbi, like many LCs, regularly patrols his zone and says he is been bothered by the absence of armed personnel. The role of villagers is to identify personnel to be trained under the Usaalama project. The candidates must be youth from the village and with good behaviour.

LCs are already mobilising for Usalaama’s up-keep. Village meetings are being held to decide on how much the soldiers should be paid. During these meetings, they also sensitise LCs, residents and the Police about the security personnel.

“We agreed that all the villagers pay sh500,” says Lt. Ahmed Katono, who is in charge of the security of Kawempe. However, the money collected from every household is not enough to sustain security personnel. On average, every village has about 200 homesteads. These generate about sh100,000.

On average, every village has two security personnel. This means that each earns sh50,000 per month.

This amount may not be enough for them, given the fact that it would be difficult for a person to spend the night guarding a village and work in the morning. “The minimum per home should be sh1,000,” says Edward Mutibwa of Usalaama.

Sh1,000 has been proposed in some villages, but villagers like the ones in Komamboga central zone are protesting against it.

Some residents of Nebbi complained that the Usalaama were stealing people’s property.

According to Kayihura, Usalaama’s guns are controlled by the Police. An Usalaama officer picks a gun from the police station nearest to his area of operation in the evening, stays with it throughout the night and returns it in the morning.

The Police then counts the bullets and checks the gun and if it is established that the officer used the gun for personal benefits, he faces disciplinary action.

Will Usalaama end insecurity

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