By John Kazooba
Sunday’s police and security ministry reshuffle excited Ugandans. Monday, I tried to buy a local newspaper in my locality and failed to get a copy
Whereas many eyes are focused on the exits of the persons of Gen Kale Kayihura and Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, two men with history of NRA – they might be thinking in past tense. Kayihura and Tumukunde being relieved of their duties and life goes on in Uganda explains that Mr Museveni has perfected his game of thrones.
SO, the real focus should be on Sabiiti Muzei who the president brought into the police force as deputy IGP.
Mr Museveni is very cunning and strategic. He has assessed the weakness of the police today and he knows his men well. Now that Sabiiti has served in special forces for a very long time where public engagements are not the norm, the president has given him Okoth Ochola for the boss. The issues under the belly of the police need a Sabiiti, technical and meticulous. Of course the police problems might be bigger than Sabiiti, and only time will tell if Sabiiti was indeed the tailored for the job or, he wanted handed a rope to hang himself.
Who is Sabiiti?
Sabiiti’s name started ringing as the deputy of Special Forces Command then under First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Sabiiti, a silent operator, was one of the commanders who ensured Muhoozi succeeded in his job as commander of the elite force which is entrusted with guarding the president and key national installations.
Sabiiti joined the military in the groups Maj Gen Kainerugaba Muhoozi recruited to join him back in 1990s. Sabiiti’s father, Zekeriah Magyenyi died in 2007. His mother is said to be related to Museveni.
For now it is clear Ochola will handle the public relations functions of the police force as Sabiiti cleanses the force of viruses that are disabling the force’s operations. This role the president knows Sabiiti if the police officers render him their good will.
Sabiiti, now a brigadier general, has also been offered a window to rise high in ranks to at least the rank of Major General, even Lieutenant General by the time police takes the shape his boss wants him to give it.
The fact that the police has lots of young officers, is an opportunity for Sabiiti, similarly a youthful officer, to work with them using modern policing techniques.
However, the Achilles heel in Sabiiti’s appointment is his clear wielding of so much power which also contributed to Gen Kayihura’s downfall as it created for him lots of enemies and several officers withdrew their goodwill to serve him. The thing is Sabiiti is a soldier through and through. And with complaints of militarization of the police, Sabiiti cannot avoid offer the police his military advantages. Whether that would offer Uganda and Ugandans better security for persons and their property, we await to see. What is however so clear, the not populist Sabiiti will keep his eye on the ball and possibly the criminals wherever they are should better hide their heads for now.
Kayihura and Tumukunde have done their bit…and certainly, the president might bring them back albeit to play certain roles like he has done with Gen Elly Tumwine to take over the security docket. However, there was a time Tumwine was army chief and as a historical in his own right, has kept around without necessarily having a high flying position in government save for being an army MP, head of national medals committee and other arts credentials. However Tumwine is one of Museveni’s top supporters in the military and his consistency has earned him a shirt to play at the time the president wanted to neutralize the power beef between his generals which was creating public uneasiness. Okoth Ochola is also in the evening of his service in the force and soon might be retiring like any other career policeman.
However for the security challenges facing Uganda today, all eyes should be on Brig Sabiiti, who is one of Museveni’s most trusted officers. Sabiiti played an instrumental role in turning Special Forces into a fierce command and was recently sent to military police as a transition from the elite SFC to administering discipline as an overseer of Military Police. Under his short stint at military police, Sabiiti silently carried out his duties without pomp. It was even alleged at some point, he had taken over some actual policing work which reports the army rejected.
Sabiiti, one of the soldiers with diverse military training, leadership and strategic studies, joins the police at the time it is faced with a breakdown in discipline.