By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) is lacking over 130.5 billion shillings additional funding for Local Defence Unit (LDUs) welfare.
This was revealed by the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi on Tuesday November 12, 2019 while appearing before the Parliamentary committee on Defence and Internal Affairs.
Mbadi said, the Army is in need of money for wages, clothing, food, fuel and training of over 23,000 personnel.
He explained to the committee that LDUs component has since the 2018/2019 financial year piled pressure on the ministry’s budget of shillings 3.1 trillion which resulted in a wage shortfall of shillings 14.9 billion.
“In the 2019/2020 budget, there is a wage shortfall of shillings 26 billion for the 13,000 LDUs personnel recruited as well as clothing at shillings 45.3 billion, food (shillings 39.7 billion) and fuel for operations (shillings 4.6 billion),” he said.
Mbadi added that the army had to recruit LDUs as a directive from President Yoweri Museveni following the spate of violent crimes in the Kampala Metropolitan Area last year.
He said that in the 2018/2019 financial year, the army recruited, trained 10,919 LDUs, of which 6,500 were earmarked for Kampala.
In the 2019/2020 financial year, 13,000 LDUs have so far been recruited and are undergoing training.
The Committee chairperson, also Amolatar Woman MP, Doreen Amulle asked why the army did not recruit 24,000 LDUs in the 2018/2019 financial year as planned.
However, Mbadi said that the army decided to phase out the recruitment due to capacity challenges.
The Permanent Secretary for Defence ministry, Rosette Byengoma told the committee that the ministry paid the recruited LDU personnel 14.9 billion shillings using money from the UPDF SACCO.
The Minister of State for Defence and Veterans, Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama said that the ministry of finance is aware of the budget deficit.
However, Rwamirama told the committee that the army will not recruit more LDU officers until the ministry is assured of funding.
Amulle asked whether the army plans to recruit more LDUs personnel, considering that the target of 24,000 has not been filled up.
Kitgum Woman MP, Margaret Lamakwa asked the officials to comment on allegations of brutality by the LDUs.
But Lt. Gen. Mbadi, however, downplayed the claims arguing that those are isolated cases.
He assured the committee that the UPDF internal disciplinary mechanisms have the capacity to resolve cases of indiscipline and brutality.