UgandaDecides2016: can security overwhelm the people’s voice?


Let’s first take a look at the numbers:

  1. Population of Uganda – 38.8 Million [Source: United Nations Population Fund Report 2014]
  2. Youth (i.e. population between 15-30 years) as a Percentage of Total Population: 77% or 29.8Million. [Source: United Youth Statistics, UNICEF]
  3. Total Number of Eligible Voters Recorded in the National Voters Register to be used in the 2016 General Elections: 15,277,196 [Source: East African Business Week, 15/02/2015]
  4. Total Number of Polling Stations: 28,010 polling stations distributed across the country. [ Source: East African Business Week, ibid]
  5. Number of Districts in Uganda: 111 Districts and One City-Kampala [Source: Wikipedia]
  6. Number of Villages in Uganda: 56,000
  7. Total Size of Uganda Police Force: Between 45,000 – 47,000 [Source: Daily Monitor 16/04/2015]
  8. Police to Population Ratio: 1 policeman for every 862 Ugandans.
  9. Total Size of Crime Preventers: About 50,000. Recruitment target 1.7 Million before 2016 elections and 10 million by the end of 2018 [Source: The Observer, 23/10/2015, URN 06/11/2015]
  10. Total Size of SFC: 8,000 [Source: The Independent, 15/02/2013].
  11. SFC to Population Ratio: 1 SFC for every 4860 Ugandans.
  12. Total Size of UPDF: 40,000 – 45,000 [Source: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Wikipedia, the Independent Newspaper ibid]
  13. Total Size of Other Security Out Fits e.g. CMI, ISO, JATT etc [unknown but not more than 10,000]

Assuming 60,000 security forces are committed to this election we can estimate an average of about 2 security officials per polling station or 1 per village. Assuming on average, each polling station caters for 550 voters on average or to look at it differently 1064 youth or 1,350 citizens, the latter two who though they can’t vote are enthusiastic observers.

To me these numbers indicate that it is difficult to rely on security to rig ones way into power again. I don’t see 2 security Ugandan officers committing a massacre against 550 voters or 1064 youth.

I don’t think crime preventers are a credible threat because the bulk are opportunistic and opposition leaning and for those who are not, they are inadequately skilled and equipped to handle security matters.

In addition the government has no money to pay them and recently MP’s rejected a request of 37bn to pay just 50,000 of them UGX 20,000 each (See http://www.observer.ug/news-headlines/41735-mps-block-shs-37bn-request-for-crime-preventers) .  Where can government get UGX 255BN per month or 3 Trillion per year to pay the 1.7M a minimum wage of 150,000 per month or 1.8M per year?

Government doesn’t have that money lying idle neither does NRM or Museveni nor can Uganda’s total wage bill of 2.3 trillion comfortably accommodate it when govt can’t ensure timely payment of wages to existing spies.

Secondly, most security officers are interested in doing good and are not interested in destroying their lives and reputations for the sake of one man’s personal or family rule.

This is the case for all even those working in Special Forces Command. For example Christopher Aine worked in SFC, but chose to make a difference for his country. Aine shows the good in the security services.

Museveni is a student of psychology, and his greatest skill has been to play the poker face or bluff power game to well. i.e. when someone is bluffing, they are pretending that the cards they are holding are better than they really are (in the hopes of getting their opponent to give up).

Ugandans have to call his bluff. They can do so firstly by looking at the numbers and believing that change is possible. Secondly they should come out boldly and patriotically in big numbers to vote and even those who are not eligible, should do all they can to facilitate peaceful and effective voting e.g. vigilantly stationing themselves near the polling stations to provide a sense of security.

Thirdly, they should do all they can within their sphere of influence to enable friends, relatives, peers, employees, house-helps, children etc go out and vote.

A Former USA President J. F. Kennedy famously stated: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

In the Ugandan context, this is a call of civic duty to all of us to do well and influence the election outcome, to not only vote but to ensure others vote and to try to safeguard you and your neighbours vote.

Everyone on social media is fortunate and educated and has a sphere of influence in life, however small, therefore we should use it, being mindful that small effort build up a momentum.

All this is to ensure that come February 18th 2016, you, your family and your children will be proud to be identified as Ugandans, and most importantly you will know that you have built your country.

Moses Atocon Atyekwo, the author is a social and political commentator

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