retired Luweero Bush War veteran Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire has voiced his desire for a rather unconventional transformation. On September 10, he expressed his discontentment regarding the treatment of prison officers, asserting that they should no longer be considered traditional civil servants but rather armed service personnel.
Gen Otafiire conveyed his concerns about the classification of police officers, prison officers, and immigration officers as civil servants. He pointed out that while teachers use chalk, doctors wield stethoscopes, and agriculturalists handle hoes, police and prison personnel carry weapons. He believes it’s incongruous to treat them as ordinary civil servants and is pushing for a review of their operational procedures and status. According to him, these individuals constitute armed services.
He went on to emphasize that these officers should not be regarded as traditional civil servants. Unlike civil servants, police officers can leave without charge or take unpaid leave, which creates difficulties in maintaining control over individuals responsible for national security. Gen Otafiire extended this argument to include citizenship and immigration control, asserting that immigration serves as the country’s first line of defense.
Gen Otafiire articulated his wish during the passing and commissioning of 2,234 prison officers at Kololo Independence Grounds, highlighting plans to review the conditions for immigration service, police, and prisons.
In addition to his unconventional proposal, Gen Otafiire urged the newly appointed prison officers to embrace patriotism.
Support for Gen Otafiire’s idea came from President Museveni, who acknowledged the accuracy of his observations. The president attributed the misclassification of police and prison personnel as civil servants to colonial remnants still prevalent in Uganda.
Dr. Johnson Byabashaija, the Commissioner General of the Uganda Prisons Service, provided some statistics during the event. He noted that the addition of 2,234 new recruits brought the total number of prison personnel to 14,248. Remarkably, there are now more convicts than individuals on remand, reversing the previous imbalance where remandees outnumbered convicts. He attributed this change to improvements in the justice administration system.
Dr. Byabashaija also mentioned a reduction in prison congestion, with a 10 percentage point decrease from 372 percent to 362 percent in recent months.