The army is to remunerate Local Defense Unit personnel with a monthly stipend of Shs200,000 and offer them military fatigues and guns, Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi has said.
Gen Muhoozi was part of a Defence and Veteran Affairs Minister Adolf Mwesige – led delegation before Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.
“The auxiliary forces are paid Shs200,000 per month and will be given six months pay upon demobilisation,” said Gen Muhoozi.
“They will conduct patrols, do information collection, attend village security meetings and file patrol reports; they will don Uganda People’s Defense Forces gazetted uniforms,” said Muhoozi, adding that all enlisted persons will be subject to military law.
Shadow Defense Minister, Muwanga Kivumbi, had inquired about the pay that the LDUs would receive and also faulted the Army for opting to recruit groups he called ‘idlers’.
“Your preferred candidates are those without any formal jobs; so you are going to recruit idlers,” he said.
“At the operational level, who is in charge? Is it the army or police? To whom will they report,” he asked.
His sentiments appealed to MP Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga), who added that the army should have sought prior Parliamentary approval before recruiting the LDUs.
“Parliament regulates the UPDF…under what constitutional framework are you training, recruiting and providing for the pay of LDUs yet you know that it touches on the Consolidated Fund,” said Ssekikubo.
Defence State Minister (Veteran Affairs), Lt Col Bright Rwamirama said their payroll will be automated to avoid fraud and that in the meantime, “the initial phase will be 6,000 LDUs and we will scale it up with time”.
Earlier, the army had to ward off accusations of torture levelled against it by Kilak County MP Gilbert Olanya following the Arua by-elections.
“On the issue of torture, I was there personally in Arua and I followed what happened step by step…the torture in Arua was done by UPDF soldiers; the killing that happened in Arua was done by UPDF soldiers,” said Olanya.
MP Peter Ogwang (NRM, Usuk) said Olanya’s sentiments were misplaced, adding that he should bring allegations backed by specifics and not generalisations.
“If the clip is there [showing torture by UPDF], can that clip be used to identify the officers involved? This is a Committee, we have to be specific,” said Ogwang.
Minister Mwesige said UPDF doesn’t condone torture, dismissing MP Olanya’s remarks as unfounded.
Committee Chairperson, Hon Doreen Amule, criticised the media over publishing remarks allegedly attributed to Defence State Minister Col Charles Engola, that videos circulating on social media on torture by the Military instead originated from Nigeria.
MP Amule said Nigeria descended hard on Uganda, drawing diplomatic swords that included Nigeria seeking clarification from the army leadership.
She said no such statements were ever made in the Committee meetings.