Parliament to Probe UPDF recruitment exercise

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee to inquire into recruitment by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) following complaints of unfairness and discrimination.

The decision follows an alarm sounded by Tororo Woman MP Sarah Opendi indicating 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 between June 18 and July 4, 2022, as part of a nationwide exercise seeking to recruit 10,000 young men and women to join the national army. 

 Although there were 120 slots allocated to the Tororo district, Opendi, told Parliame nt that 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.

A section of other MPs including Otuke County MP, Paul Omara, and Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya also raised similar queries which were however dismissed by State Minister for Defence Jacob Oboth. 

He told parliament that the recruitment was based on a quota system, and slots were allotted to districts based on the Population Housing Census of 2014.

“The Criteria, therefore, for being an eligible applicant was: – Be a Ugandan National, adult female or male, Uganda Certificate of Education UCE or its equivalent certificate or any above, be healthy and willing to undergo medical and physical tests and have no criminal liability,”  Oboth said. 

He added that the only role of the Local Councils was to prove that the applicants had no criminal liabilities.

The Minister said that the recruitment was for all Ugandans and nationals could be recruited from anywhere in Uganda as long as they presented a National Identity Card and Local Councils or District Internal Security Officer (DISO ) could vouch that they have no criminal record.

“Suffice to note that not everybody who came and met the criteria could be recruited because of the limited slots. Not every 1st grade goes to Buddo or Law School, as a result, there have been many who have been dissatisfied, as well as many who have cried foul,” he explained.

Oboth old MPs that recruitment is the foundation of the UPDF’s ability to sustain its overall force level and the recruitment process and criteria are deliberately designed to make sure that they get the qualities they need while helping the Ministry identify the ideal role they will play while in service. 

He added that because of the unique equipment and task of UPDF, they had a preference for scientists, Artisans, Science Teachers and others.

Oboth told Parliament that his Ministry has a list of all 195 persons who were recruited in Tororo and tasked Opendi to mention the names of those who were recruited wrongly.

As a result of the controversy, Tayebwa directed that all queries relating to the UPDF recruitment should be submitted to the Committee for investigation.

Deputy Speaker Tayebwa gave the Parliament Defence Committee only two weeks to report back its findings on the statement and documents laid on table by the Minister as well as other witnesses that will present complaints.

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