Minister of Security Wilson Muruuli Mukasa tell United World how Uganda is working to achieve “total security” towards deepening investor confidence in the country
Uganda has enjoyed robust growth over the last few years, spurred by investments in infrastructure, energy, agriculture and services. It has been the most favoured destination for FDI in East Africa. GDP growth accelerated last year to 5.2%, – from 3.4% in 2012, as a result of more investment in Uganda’s nascent oil sector and healthy yearly growth of 6% is predicted between 2014 and 2017.
What have been the key strengths to Uganda’s success over the last few years?
Security has been a key strength of Uganda; particularly, when it comes to containing the various violent groups that have been causing disturbances in our nation. Along with a group of other countries, we have also contributed in containing the insurgents that have been disrupting the peace within the region.
Uganda has also had notable economic success, shifting from a negative growth to a positive growth to the extent that we can now fund at least 82% of our budget from domestic sources (with the remaining balance funded by global partners).
From the time of independence to this day, achievements have been made in the area of governance. We have now established a real multi-party democracy that boasts of freedom and transparency. We have a system of local government (LG) that attempts to make local administrative areas (LAAs) vibrant democracies that decide their respective priorities.
Significant progress has been also made in the area of health. We have finally gotten rid of polio through mass immunization with the help of our European partners and we are now fighting malaria with a lot of success.
Obviously, one of the main things investors look for is security (which is one of the key strengths in Uganda). Is there a plan to form further alliances to ensure continued security within the region?
Yes, there is. When it comes to regional alliance, we have the EAC and regional blocs such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). In terms of the continent, we have the African Union (AU). We also have the Programme Development Partners (PDPs). The US, for instance, is working with us on a campaign to capture the notorious Joseph Kony.
We intend to strengthen these partnerships to achieve total security and deepen investor confidence in this area.
Being a landlocked country poses certain challenges in terms of customs and immigration. How are you working with these departments to ensure safety within the country?
We work closely with customs and immigration. We have signed a number of protocols within the EAC to handle all the cross-border challenges. After all, under this arraignment, East Africa (EA) is going to be viewed as one investment area. This means that as a bloc, we must handle the challenges that we meet together. That is why we intend to continue consolidating these relationships.
The main advantage of private security in Uganda is that it is a basis for direct investment. It also provides employment to many Africans and makes citizens feel more secure as a result of its presence. Private security has seen exponential progress in Uganda, with a number of private security firms coming up. As a Ministry, what is being done to ensure the quality of these private services?
We have private security organizations (PSOs) appraised. They are managed by the police from a legal point of view. We work with them quite extensively in maintaining the standards and ensuring that they complement government’s security efforts.
So far, this is working very well. While a lot of these PSOs are local, we also have some international groups such as G4S and Saracen from South Africa.
What are some of the Ministry’s short-term to medium-term strategies to ensure security within the country?
First of all, we feel that security is a collective effort. Those in charge of maintaining security are tasked to work hand-in-hand with the people (the beneficiaries of the security effort).
Another general principle that we follow is the need for continuous training. The landscape of security is becoming increasingly sophisticated. More than simply catching up, we need to be 2 or 3 steps ahead. This includes fulfilling the technical requirements and ensuring that the necessary legal framework is in place.
We are work with our regional and international partners, as needed.
United States has been bringing assistance and working together with Uganda’s Government in order to combat Lord’s Resistance Army and establish the level of regional security that the further development of East Africa requires to meet its potential. In which areas would you like to see more cooperation between both nations?
Training is a possible area of partnership. As I have said, training is a continuous effort and the US has one of the strongest security programs in the world. Their technical and practical expertise can help us in honing our internal capabilities. We look forward to further intensifying our relationship.
As the Ugandan Minister of Security, what are your biggest challenges?
They are the usual challenges that a Minister of Security would face. There is the issue of budget, for instance, which we need to cover the cost of security in the country. With ample budget, we can augment our training program, provide the necessary equipment, and so on.
What you would like to say to those American investors or tourists from that want to invest and visit Uganda?
Uganda is a safe country. It is certainly a lot safer than it was about a decade ago. We work very closely with the people, as well as our regional and international partners. We have managed to neutralize threats to internal security. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), for instance, are no longer present within the country.
The Ugandan police force is stronger than ever. Apart from increased precinct capacity, we now have young and energetic people taking on the task. The same applies in the area of intelligence and the army.
American visitors have nothing to fear in terms of security in Uganda.
What would you like to be remembered for in this Ministry?
I would like to be remembered for my role in working closely with our regional and international partners to eliminate extremist groups within the country.
I would also like to be remembered for turning the various principles of good security into tradition (e.g., working with the people, respecting human rights, following the rule of law, viewing training as a continuous process, etc.).
What is the most important thing that people should learn about this country?
Uganda is a very vibrant country. It has made tremendous improvements in all fields (i.e., governance, security, economy, infrastructure, etc.). It is a truly democratic with a high tolerance for differences of opinion, and mutual respect. We recognize the reality of having several centers of influence, and nobody is worried about that.
What message would you like to the readers of USA Today?
The Ministry of Security is a good service ministry. All our activities are geared towards protecting the welfare of our citizens and making life in the country better. With increased security comes increased moral confidence and investments. With more domestic and international economic activity to benefit our people, life will surely be better.
The Ministry of Security is a people’s ministry. The people who manage the security of the country are there in flesh and blood. They can be talked to. They can address various issues justly and rationally.