What President Museveni’s special address to Parliament may reveal

Proceeding under the mandate given to him under Article 101 (2), President Yoweri Museveni will address Parliament on Thursday March 16 at the Kololo Independence Grounds at 2pm. 

Speaker Anita Among, informed Parliament last week that the President had requested to address the House on matters of national importance.

“He [President] will address the House on matters of national importance concerning the country and I urge you [MPs] to be in the House to hear what the President will say on what we can do to change our economy and society,” Among said. 

The last time the President addressed Parliament in a special sitting was on June 20, 2018 when he tackled security issues at a time the country was witnessing assassinations.

Article 101(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda stipulates that the President may, also, in consultation with the Speaker, address Parliament from time to time, on any matter of national importance.

There have been speculations about what the President might be wishing to tell the country through Parliament about two and a half months prior to his time to deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the first week of June.

Thursday’s address comes at the time when the Cabinet is facing public scrutiny after a scandal hit a number of top Ministers over the diversion of iron sheets meant for Karachunas (Karimajong youth) who are being demobilized in the ongoing disarmament process.

It has been reported in the media that Museveni has ordered the police to investigate the Ministers involved in the iron sheets bonanza while the Presidential Affairs Committee in Parliament continues to investigate. At the center of the scandal is Karamoja Minister Mary Goret Kitutu whose mother’s arrest while allegedly selling iron sheets branded Office of the Prime Minister sparked the unearthing of the scandal.

Other Cabinet Ministers mentioned in the iron sheet scandal though they deny wrong doing include Vice President Jessica Alupo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, 1st Deputy Prime Minister Rebecca Kadaga, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, Government Chief Whip Denis Hamson Obua. State Ministers Agnes Nandutu (Karamoja), Henry Musasizi (Finance in charge General Duties), Amos Lugoloobi (Finance in charge planning) among others. Speaker Among, has also confirmed that iron sheets were delivered to her District Bukedea but has insisted that “let everyone carry his or her cross”.

Many think that the President who has been astonished with the iron sheet’s scandal may discuss the subject while addressing Parliament but they don’t expect him to announce a Cabinet reshuffle at the same time. 

Also, the address comes at the time when the country has recently suffered some pockets of insecurity with unknown people attacking a number of police posts, killing some officers and going away with guns.

Recently, the government declined to renew the contract for the United Nations Human Rights Office and the opposition together with civil society activists have pointed apportioned blame on what they call Uganda’s “shrinking democracy”. The opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) has been accusing state security apparatus of “kidnapping” it is supporters and this has been accompanied by reports of torture. Some thing the President will come out to speak about this because in one of his routine televised addresses last year, he condemned torture of suspects during arrest and interrogation by the security personnel. 

Having been vocal against the imposition of western culture on the African states in the name of rights, the President is also expected to make his stand clear on the homosexuality debate. A month on Thursday, while speaking at the St Janan Luwum memorial service in Kitgum District, Museveni applauded the Anglican province of Uganda for taking a bold stand against the decision by the synod of the Church of England, that same sex relationships could be blessed by the clergy. Anyway, Parliament has started the process relating to the Anti-homosexuality Bill, 2023 and the Speaker has stated that it must be passed before the end of next week.

Previous address recap 

On June 20, 2018 the last time the President addressed Parliament under Article 101(2) of the Constitution, he tackled mostly security and issued a dozen action points to ensure that the country was secure. This address came nearly two weeks after then Arua Municipality legislator, Col (Rtd) Ibrahim Abiriga was assassinated and more than a year after the killing of former Police Spokesperson Felix Kaweesi. 

According to the Parliamentary Hansard of June 20, 2018, the President listed the 12 measures to deal a blow to the perpetrators of such criminal acts that had started with the killings of prominent clerical leaders of the Islamic faith in some parts of the country. 

For purposes of accuracy and avoidance of doubt, this website reproduces part of the excerpts of the record of the particular way forward as record on the Hansard; 

We have got a police force of educated people. Why should they be bothering an old man like me to go and look for criminals? (Laughter) I had therefore not directly involved myself in the fight against crime until the killing of AIGP Kaweesi. I had assumed the police force, which is full of educated people would handle the crime. 

However, with the earlier killings of the Sheikhs: Mustafa Bahiga, Abdul Kadhir Muwaya, Yusuf Madangu, Abdul Karim Ssentamu, Hassan Kirya, Yunus Mudango, Abdu Jowali Sentuga together with the killing of Joan Kagezi and later the killing of Kiggundu and Kaweesi, I was provoked into direct action. 

I came to the conclusion that just depending on the old police methods and vigilance of the people had to be supplemented with technology to stop crime promptly instead of relying on protracted investigations. 

With the army, police, intelligence and prison service leaders plus the sub-committees of the National Security Council, I have had intensive discussions resulting into conclusions in terms of what needs to be done to subdue undetected crimes which breed impunity in the country. There should be no undetected crimes after we have taken the following measures:

Fingerprinting all the guns in Uganda. (Applause) I have been using guns almost continuously since 1971 – 47 years. I did not, however, know that guns have individual fingerprints. I thought that guns of the same calibre – for example, AK-47 calibre 7.62x39mm – would have the same fingerprint. You know I was using guns for war, not for policing. With war, you do not look for fingerprints; you look for dead bodies. (Laughter)

In my interactions with the police a few months ago, however, they educated me that the cartridges left at the scene of crime can tell us which gun fired which bullet and that they have the machine to read those fingerprints. This police of yours has the machine to read all the fingerprints of guns. That is what I found out recently. 

“Why then are you not using it for all these murders?” I asked them. The answer: “We have not bothered to take the fingerprints of all the guns in Uganda.” They had not bothered. They had not seen it necessary to see that all the guns in Uganda must be fingerprinted in this way. That was amazing but true. 

I have now issued the order in the subcommittee of the national Security Council that all the guns must be fingerprinted by firing each gun a number of times in controlled conditions to capture the fingerprints of each one of them. That will mean that if any legal gun in Uganda is used, we shall know which gun was used and since we know who is carrying which gun, we shall easily know the crime perpetrator. (Applause) That will account for all the legally held guns. If any of them is diverted to crime, we shall know. 

That, however, will not cover the guns smuggled in from the neighbouring countries, which will be captured by other measures. This one will help us to know that there is no legally held gun by the army, police, intelligence services and even the ones held by the licensing Act – because you can go and buy a gun from the police with a licence. All those legally held guns, if they are used, we shall know. That will mean that those ones are now traceable. 

However, that will not capture the ones which are smuggled and are not part of this stored information. For those, we shall use other measures. It will at least remove this problem where the gun is legal but it is loaned to do illegal things and it comes back. That one will be handled.

The second measure we intend to introduce is to require every motor vehicle and “Piki piki” (Motor cycle) to have electronic number plates installed at the cost of the owner. That is where I need your support. (Applause) This is because these number plates which are there now are just a joke. They are screwed on and thrown away. They have no meaning. 

Therefore, we want to introduce electronic number plates with electronic signals in them. (Applause) If you are going to visit your girlfriend or what, we are not interested in those things. (Laughter) Some people are worried that if we can electronically trace you then we shall know your – (Laughter)

You don’t have to worry at all. We can embed it in the law that this information should never be retrieved or looked for, except if your car or “Piki piki” is found on the scene of crime. We can protect privacy. (Laughter) It is only when your car or “Piki piki” is found at the crime scene. Otherwise, if you are doing your other things, why would anybody bother with you? (Laughter)

This will enable us to know which vehicles or “Piki pikis” were in which area if a crime was committed in the different areas. 

The electronic gadgets will be very tuned that if anybody tries to interfere with the number plates, the central monitoring system will be alerted and the registration will be cancelled and we shall go – because like in these cases, they either remove the number plates completely or remove it. You cannot read it. Yes. However, this time if you try to remove it, the central system will be alerted. Why are you trying to interfere with the number plate? We will come for you.

The electronic gadget will be very tuned that if anybody tries to interfere with the number plates, the central monitoring system will be alerted and the registration will be cancelled and we go for the offender.

Thirdly, the police have already banned the practice of people zooming along our roads with jackets that have hoods to hide their identity. There are jackets, which people wear as if they are for warmth but they cover their heads and only leave out the eyes; so, when they commit crimes even during broad daylight, you cannot see their faces well. The police have banned these jackets and once we see you hooded, we shall challenge you. If you do not – The police will challenge anybody who covers themselves in that way.  

How about the helmets then? If we have banned the hooded jackets, what about the helmets since they also cover the face and someone cannot be seen properly? Should people ride pikipikis without helmets since they also hide identity? No, we need the helmets. However, we need helmets with illuminated numbers both in front and at the back. We want helmets which have illuminated numbers – those that can shine at night – so that you can easily see the number at the back and in front. 

In addition, these helmets will be registered and stored in a central computer system in the police or wherever it is appropriate. I want to persuade National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to partner with the private sector in manufacturing these number plates and helmets locally. I do not want to lose a lot of foreign exchange on account of helmets, number plates, etcetera.

Uganda Telecommunications Limited (UTL) is working on assembling and manufacturing mobile phones here. The same must be done for the television sets, radios, electricity transformers, among others. These massively consumed items should not be imported but they should be made here. Therefore, the helmets and number plates will have to be made here.

I salute Mzee Mehta for making the cables here for a long time because it has solved one – (the President wears the hooded jacket to demonstrate to Members) – This is how they confuse people. (Laughter)

The master blow to criminals is number four, which is the installation of cameras on town roads, streets and along the highways. As somebody who has been involved in security and combat issues for the last 50 years, I can tell you that potentially, the criminal or the enemy can evade other forms of detection except the optical – eyes, cameras and telescopes. 

When we attacked and overrun Kampala in 1986, few people in the world believed that we had such capacity. Most of the embassies in Kampala were dismissive of our capacity. Why was this so? This was partly because we never used the military radios and telephones for any of our plans. I have been warning the security forces not to depend too much on telephones and things like that because serious criminals will avoid the use of telephones. Those criminals who use telephones are not very serious criminals; they just take advantage of the disorganization.

The one thing that they cannot escape is the optical – the human eye, camera and the telescope – to see. Whatever you do, you cannot escape the human eye, camera and the telescope. That is why I think this should be the anchor of the anti-crime. Therefore, our security forces should use our ears to listen for any clues but they should know that the eye is unbeatable and unflunkable. 

Satellite cameras in space may be obstructed by cloud cover. They are far, above the cloud cover. Therefore, when it is cloudy, the satellite cameras may not see. However, for the cameras that are on the road, they cannot escape them because they are like the human eyes – like the way I am seeing you. I can see whether these are good or bad people – (Laughter) – I can see my lamera.

However, the cameras on the ground, if necessary, will have thermal sensors. This is because we will have the problem of the night – What happens at night if there are no lights? We can have cameras, which have thermal sensors and can read the temperature of the body. These will not fail us. If the criminals try to play their childish games of covering their heads when they are travelling, the man at the command post will see them and then alert the police – “Someone is riding a pikipiki with their head covered, intercept him or her”. That will be very easy. If the person is covering himself or herself with a helmet, it will have illuminated numbers and they will be riding a pikipiki with electronic number plates. 

Someone has asked, how about the villages? People who go to the villages branch off from the main roads. If somebody branched off from the main road going to Chegere in Apac, from the cameras along the main road to Lira, we shall know how many pikipikis branched off that way. It will help us narrow down how many pikipikis branched off to that way on that day. Even if there are no cameras in the village, we shall have a smaller area to look at so that we can follow up.

The fifth method of discovering criminals is having a modern forensic laboratory. I had thought that the electronic national identity cards would solve part of this problem by capturing our fingerprints, only to be told that they only captured thumbprints and not palm prints. Why did you not tell us to provide our palm prints? We, therefore, need to have our palm prints captured. We also need the DNA of the criminals captured so that when blood is left at a crime scene, they are traceable.  

We had a debate within the National Security Council. I did not see any problem with providing my blood sample so that they can keep my DNA in the computer. However, some people said that they do not like their DNA to be in the computer. (Laughter) What is the problem? I do not see it. You see, the good thing with DNA is that if we find blood samples at the scene, we will quickly know whose blood samples they are. If it is a case of rape, then we know very easily who was involved. Even for sweat, we take a jacket like this one, which will be having sweat on it, and we shall know who was sweating in this jacket – (Laughter) – or even saliva and hair. 

Therefore, if we really want our country to be peaceful, there is no need for anyone to fear to give their DNA information to be stored. What do you fear? What is it? Who will lose if all our DNA information is stored centrally so that if there is a problem, we go for DNA testing? Only the criminals are worried – (Interjection) – Therefore, I appeal to you to support me so that we stabilise our country. 

When the country is very peaceful – I normally see our Ugandan grandchildren in the Red Pepper putting up their legs. (Laughter) My wife is always very angry, but I usually tell her, “leave those children, we shall see how to guide them”. This is their freedom. They are free and they stay in their bikeesa or trans-night functions. We shall guide them slowly on how to get out of gambling and these things they are involved in. Otherwise, let there be peace; let there be no crime. (Applause) Please, let us do everything possible to endanger criminals.

With the cameras and other means of detection, the next challenge in the fight against crime, which is point six, is the speed of response and how quickly we arrive at the scene. I have directed the police to revive the 999 system and the Flying Squad. Only that this time the Flying Squad will really be a flying squad and not a crawling squad, which crawls through heavy traffic and you call it a flying squad.

How shall we make it a real flying squad? We shall provide it with Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), which you call drones. This will be in addition to the pikipikis, cars, light helicopters, etcetera. These drones are very useful. We are using them in the army and they help us. You do not have to have people running all over the bush. One person can stay in one place and you send UAVs and they simply watch the whole forest from their warm, air-conditioned room. You do not have to have people wasting money on dry rations, because you know when they go in the field, they want to go with food. Here, the officer will stay in one place and send out this UAV and if there is any call to 999, the drone flies out immediately. If anybody is trying to escape with pikipikis, it will be on him and the rest will follow.

Point No.7: While we use UAVs to fight crime, the enemy can also use them to promote crime. The Defence Committee has authorised 30 legal UAVs. This Defence Committee is chaired by the Commander of the Air force. One hundred and thirty-one applications have been put in for UAVs. These applications are being analysed. Five hundred have been impounded because they were being brought into the country illegally. Some people were trying to bring in UAVs illegally because they wanted to spy on people. I do not know what they wanted to do. Hence, these UAVs must be regulated. 

The responsible minister – I do not who the responsible minister will be; will it be the Minister of Works and Transport, the Minister of Defence or the Minister of Internal Affairs? We shall have to see. The responsible minister, under the Prime Minister, needs to develop a policy and a Bill for Cabinet’s discussion, which will eventually come to Parliament for debate, to control the use of these UAVs.

In the meantime, with the security personnel, we have discussed and agreed on how to deal with the hostile UAVs. There are technical means of neutralising these UAVs. One of the technical means is to jam them and then they fall down. The other one is to locate the sender and then you go after him. These are the small ones, which fly at a low level. The big ones, which fly in the airspace, can be seen by the radar. The radar of the air-force can see them. If the radar sees them, we can shoot them down with air-force planes or missiles. So, these ones are not a problem; they will be handled. They are just a nuisance but we shall use them properly to enhance security.

The eighth point is about the insecurity emerging as a result of misuse of social media. Criminals are suing social media to threaten violence, spread lies and cause panic. We are going to acquire capacity, on top of what the Uganda Communications Commission already has, to quickly locate these criminals without interfering with other honest users. Why do you hide your identity if you are a genuine person who is doing right? You are hiding your identity because you are a liar. We shall get you and expose you. 

Of course, we can also block social media, but I do not want to block it because our grandchildren are using social media. We just need to go for the jigger. When a jigger enters your foot, you do not cut off the whole foot; you just go for the jigger, push until you extract it.

The ninth measure: We shall acquire more scanners, under the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), to look into all the containers entering and leaving Uganda so that the under declarers of imports stop cheating URA and criminals who infiltrate guns hidden as cargo are apprehended or deterred. In August 1981, the late Gregory Kaluletwa, working for the National Resistance Army, infiltrated a lorry full of rifles and landmines with tea on top, all the way from Burundi through the two borders of Rwanda, through Katuna and delivered the cargo to our units at Najjemba Forest, between Matugga and Wakiso. 

In 1972, I brought 12 rifles in brand new shinning suitcases from Bukoba to Arusha, Moshi, Lunga Lunga border north of Tanga, to Mombasa, Nairobi, Tororo, and all the way to Kampala. (Interjections) Yes, it was treason but it was – (Laughter) – legitimate treason. 

That era of weak or non-existent state authority should have been long over. The scanners we have are not enough. Uganda Revenue Authority already has some scanners but we need more. We need scanners to cover all the land borders, all the landing sites for the wagon ferries – Port Bell and Jinja – and for the airport.

Finally, back to the army, our strategy is to have a small army with a large number of officers, Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and technical crews and also with enough equipment but backed by a large reserve force. We have carried out the audit and identified what needs to be done and we are working on it. Our capacity is robust, created over the last 50 years. We have abundant capacity to guarantee the security of Ugandans. (Applause)

All the criminals, including those hiding in Congo, will pay for their sins. Whatever is done in hiding will be proclaimed on the rooftop. In the Book of Luke 12:2-3, it says as follows: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the house tops” I thank you. (Applause) 

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