Security agencies are on high alert as the political season heats up less than a month to the 2021 elections.
Of particular concern is the question of dealing with large numbers of coordinated groups operating in the field in total disregard of Covid19 prevention guidelines, yet the cases from the deadly respiratory disease continue to soar.
Other groups are also reportedly plotting to disrupt polls by causing chaos and helping the opposition rig.
Security agencies are not seated: they are taking practical steps to closely monitor the groups to prevent them from being infiltrated by hostile elements.
NRM has also commissioned thousands of coordinators and Presidential Vote Protectors (PVPs) under President Yoweri Museveni’s NRM Office of the National Chairman (ONC) based at Kyambogo.
On December 16, during the flagging off of the coordinators and PVPs at Kyambogo, officers from police and Internal Security Organisation (ISO) attended to witness.
According to Faruk Kirunda, the administrator of the office, the officers were invited to introduce the coordinators and PVPs to them and to brief them on their roles.
“Security has been concerned about the recruitment of these teams. You can imagine when you are recruiting hundreds of thousands of people, security has to know. So we invited them to come and see that the group is genuine and composed of people known to us,” Kirunda said.
“We explained to them the roles of the coordinators and PVPs. The officers in turn provided guidance on how the teams can operate without causing security problems”
Also invited was a team from the secretariat of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) to connect back with the various districts where the coordinators are selected from and will be operating.
Previously, RDCs got briefs to the effect that unknown persons were operating in their districts under unclear circumstances.
The presence of security officers at Kyambogo had sent some tongues wagging because of the impartiality principle with some media wires reporting that they had joined the coordinators.
According to Kirunda, their involvement was and will be at security strategic level to prevent impersonation and infiltration by criminal elements who may want to use the campaign season to cause insecurity in the country.
“I commend security for being vigilant. It shows that they are working and will protect Ugandans as they go for elections. I urge all groups to notify security of their activities so as to be guided properly and to prevent being disrupted by enforcers who may not be aware of their activities. This will help us have peaceful elections,” Kirunda explained.
Security organs will work under the inter agency arrangement for the elections.
The coordinators and PVPs number about 150, 000 drawn from all sub-regions of the country.
They will serve as polling agents and election observers for Museveni who is the Presidential Flagbearer for NRM.
In the past, Museveni did not have such an organized group and it cost him many votes which were allegedly lost in the process of tallying and transmission, especially in areas where opposition is most active.
ONC’s plan is to mobilize and follow up every NRM votes, starting from door-to-door and person-to-person mobilization to urging mass turnout of voters, voting, counting, transmitting and declaring.
The teams which were flagged off on Wednesday will, working as trainers of trainers, in turn brief subordinate teams in their sub-regions, which will then take the same message to teams lower in the hierarchy right up to village level where NRM commands the broadest network countrywide.
Also present at Kyambogo were officers from UPDF who emphasized their role of securing Uganda as Ugandans go to the polls from January 14 onwards.