Parliament has tasked the Minister of Defence Vincent Ssempijja to verify people recruited by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in different districts amidst reports of fraud in the process.
The directive by the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among followed a concern by Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi that residents of her district who expressed interest in joining the army had been left out, while persons unknown to the area leadership dominated the final recruitment list.
The UPDF recruitment exercise took place on June 24, 2022, in Tororo with 120 slots allocated to the district.
It is part of a nationwide exercise seeking to recruit 10,000 young men and women to join the national army.
But according to Opendi, many of the young people from the area were not considered, yet the area leaders were also not allowed to verify the purported list of recruits from Tororo.
“The local leaders who were present, the RDC, and the district officials requested to verify the purported list of the people from Tororo and they were not allowed. The list has since been taken to the Centre purporting that the 120 people had been recruited from Tororo, whereas not,” she added.
Opendi asked that the recruitment process be halted and lists of recruited people sent back to the districts for verification in order to ensure that the army has a national character.
Otuke County MP Paul Omara also noted that they experienced the same problem in Lango sub-region.
“In Lira, when they came to do the recruitment, only 38 per cent of the people were taken. They said that the rest have HIV and AIDS,” Omara said and appealed for transparency in the recruitment exercise to enable those qualified to join the army to do so.
Similarly, Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya said that people were carried from other areas to Amuru district and recruited as residents, a practice he said was unfair.
Speaker Anita Among also complained that the lists for those recruited from Bukedea district, which she represents in Parliament, do not reflect people from the area and called for respect to the Constitution saying that the lists of those recruited should be verified by the different local leaders to ensure that the rightful people are recruited.
Maracha East MP Molly Ondoru Lematia said that recruitment processes in the country have gone wrong and that the problem is not limited to UPDF.
The Third Deputy Prime Minister Rukia Nakadama said that the problem is also experienced by her district but appealed for evidence from MPs.
Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said that Parliament has 10 UPDF representatives and wondered why any of them cannot provide answers to the House in regard to the complaints about the army recruitment process.
However, the Speaker said that it is the political head of the Ministry of Defence to respond to parliament queries and not the UPDF MPs.
Among directed that the Minister of Defence, Vincent Ssempijja presents a statement to parliament on Thursday.