Blaise Kamugisha, the Crime Preventers leader has been on a countrywide tour to rally support for his candidature.
He is contesting for the post of National Chairperson of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Youth League.
He told us what he wants to put in place to transform the conomic fortunes of the youth saying, first, they must acquaint themselves with the budgeting process.
“The youth have to get acquainted with the government budgeting process. The youth should use their numbers to pressurize and engage their MPs to budget properly and prioritize three areas; peace, job creation, electricity and roads/ infrastructure,” he said.
If his campaign is successful, Blaise will have the chance to sit with members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the NRM, the party’s highest decision making body.
He hopes this will give him a chance to lobby for the economic empowerment of the youth.
“The contracts and tenders need to be youth centered. A good percentage of these contracts and tenders should be extended not only to the already established business men but to the young people as well so that the money then circulates among many people,” Blaise argues.
He adds, “We need to organize the Youth into Co-operative movements and SACCOS so that those become their vehicles into search for start up capital and markets. And given their numerical advantage this would be so good.”
He recently spoke to the press about his role as Crime Preventers boss and how he hopes to balance the two.
BELOW IS THE INTERVIEW
Many think you are closely related to former IGP, Gen.Kale Kayihura, how true is that?
That is absolutely false, and I have always stated that the close relationship I had with the former IGP Kale Kayihura was due to my work as a crime preventer. He actually was skeptical about our capability when we were still students in Makerere until we proved him wrong and that’s when he fully agreed to work with us.
That is where my relationship with him started. Eventually, I learnt a lot from him: the love for service, the patriotism in him and how he highly respected the president. I was also humbled by his far-left ideology and method of work which put service before everything else.
Tells us about the crime preventers forum
Crime preventers program is a movement we started as students at Makerere in 2014, due to rampant rape and killings of young girls at the University.
I was then the Chairperson NRM chapter Makerere University and I felt we could do something. So, we mobilized about 500 students, especially girls, to take part in self-defense skills and training on crime prevention.
We sought help from police and the then IGP, agreed to support the program.
It is after that program that the then IGP requested us to expand it to other universities, and we held a training of about 3000 students from different universities at Police Training School, Kabalye Masindi. Because of the program’s success, we were tasked to roll it out to communities.
That is when the program was named the National Crime Preventers Forum. We built structures right from the village to national level to help police fight crime through community policing. That’s how crime preventers came into existence.
Because of the National Crime Preventers Forum’s massive membership government picked interest and our organization was eventually placed under the UPDF Reserve Force.
It was not a government program as many had initially thought but we were just a group of young people who had organised ourselves to make our communities safe.
You have been meeting different groups in preparation to run for NRM youth league chairman. What do you intend to fix if you win?
I want to fix a lot. I have followed closely and read widely about the youth wings of liberation movements in Africa and the world.
They have many things in common but what stands out, is that they anchor the mother party and provide future leadership.
They are strong, vibrant and powerful. The NRM Youth League lacks all the above. I want to collectively fix that with the rest of the youth leaders in our party structures from the village to the national level.
The NRM’s presence and pride must be felt in every household. It is possible and we can achieve it. I have these and more plans and they are clearly stated in our campaign website.
I have held NRM at heart since childhood and, I feel the revolution is not complete. It, therefore, falls on the young generation to assure and guarantee the initiators of the struggle that we are up to the task.
What have you found out from the consultations so far done?
The consultations have been an eye-opener. They have exposed me to the manner in which the youth elections are conducted, which is one of the factors hurting NRM’s appeal among the youth.
The elections have always been carried out like a covert mission, discussions held under the table and positions shared like a cake, locking out so many potential youth leaders who would do a good job for the party.
Elections should be used to mobilise, recruit, and spread the party principles and values among the youths.
None of this had made sense to the youth leaders, they had only gone to look for votes, attain positions and disappear only to resurface looking for votes. This does not help the party.
The youth are also energetic and more than willing to move the party forward, but there has been no deliberate attempt at engagement by the leaders. These youth voters are only used as voting machines.
Is your friend, Gen.Kayihura going to help you during your campaigns using his friends in the party?
I have no idea about that because I have not talked to him yet about my political race. And this is an internal race, such would cause division.
If one must get support, it should be because such friends in the party are convinced by the ideas of that candidate.
Many believe that you are using structures for crime preventers to help you win the election
I cannot stop people from believing so, the structure of crime preventers are independent of the Youth League Structures.
The chairperson for the youth league is voted by defined delegates within the NRM youth structures at Sub County and district. So, I don’t see where this applies in this race.
Besides, crime preventer have supported the NRM in various ways in the past and some of them are also in the youth structure. I have not heard any NRM member complaining. And now that Blaise wants to join the Youth League, it should not be an issue.
What motivated you to join politics?
The experience I have gained, the challenges I have faced and the passion within me to see leadership transform lives and touch communities is what has motivated me all my life.
I believe leadership is not just about attaining positions but what we can do with them. I feel there are still gaps in addressing the challenges we face as a party and a country.
I have also been motivated by other leaders in our country and Africa, like president Museveni Yoweri Kaguta and the NRA revolution; Thomas Sankara, Samora Machel, Che Guevara, Fidel, Malema during ANC and Fikile among others.
In addition to my leadership since childhood, Head Prefect -Kabateraine Memorial School, Deputy Head Prefect -Eden International School, Deputy Head Prefect -Mbarara High School, Chairperson School Council- Mbarara High School, President of UNSA for Western Region Chairperson NRM Makerere Chapter and currently the National Coordinator of National Crime Preventers Forum.
I have learnt a lot and there is no better time to join active politics than now.
How will you be able to juggle between politics and being the crime preventers’ leader?
Being a crime preventer is everyone’s duty, actually one is either a crime preventer or a criminal. From the president to the LC one chairman, they all can be crime preventers.
I just happen to volunteer as a national coordinator, but the Chief Crime Preventer is the President. He has never found a problem juggling the two.
I cannot pretend that I will be too busy to coordinate. What matters is having a structure that works and for the last 6 years. We have concentrated on strengthening and consolidating the structures of National Crime Preventers Forum from the village to national level, they can work with or without me.
What makes you think you can be a better leader than the current NRM youth league leader?
I don’t want to compare my leadership with that of a previous leader because we all face different challenges and get exposed to different opportunities at different times.
The ground is leveled differently for all of us. I can only say that the experience and style of leadership I bring onboard has been tested and works, which I think the previous leaders did have the opportunity to. And it could be due to different factors which I can’t speculate about.
If you were elected, what would be the priorities you start with? My message is anchored on four issues, we call them the big four.
They include Reform of the NRM Youth League structure, Economic participation of the youth in the four critical sectors of the economy (agriculture, services, ICT and industrialization), champion youth involvement in policy-making within the NRM party and Ideological development of the NRM youth league. These would be my priorities if elected.
We shall also prioritize building strength, mentally, ideologically, spiritually and economically within the youth league structure. Without strength, the rest shall be in vain. It starts with us first as youth leaders and young members of the party.
What do you have to say about Bobi Wine and his People Power movement?
In my opinion, I think the People Power pressure group headed by Bobi Wine is a loose political umbrella especially for youths from various political parties.
If the parties become vibrant and address the interests of their youthful members, outfits like People Power will be no more.
Unless it becomes a political party with structures like the NRM, I don’t think it has what it takes to dislodge NRM or any other party.
As a lawyer, how do you intend to fix problems in the ruling NRM party?
NRM problems are political in nature and can only be resolved politically. Laws and norms that govern the party are established by a legal order established politically.
The problems and the challenges the youth league face have nothing to do with one’s profession, what matters is one’s capability to diagnose the problem and find solutions. My focus will be just that, especially within the youth league.
You were accused of swindling the crime preventers’ savings from their Sacco to fund your lavish life. How did this happen?
Those were baseless speculations with no iota of truth in them, Mwangaza Sacco with its challenges which included management due to its vast membership achieved a lot.
We acquired a state of the art public address system, 3 block making machines and concrete mixers used in the construction of Police Residential Blocks and did supply business with Police Exodus Sacco amounting to Shs.25 Billion.
Besides, Saccos have rules and regulations that govern them, members are aware of their duty, rights and privileges in the Sacco. If one is accused of mismanaging the savings of members, the law states the process to be followed.
I have not been summoned by any authority to answer to such charges. The last time such came up, the ministry cleared the Sacco management and recommended reforms such as decentralization and formation of a union, we are 90% done.
Some members wrote to the Ministry of Trade demanding an audit of the Mwangaza Sacco. Has the Audit been done?
Yes it was done and a general assembly was held on September 26, 2019. We welcomed the Ministry with both hands because we had nothing to hide.
The audit was done and a permanent certificate issued. Meaning the Sacco was making profits.
The audit revealed that the Sacco profits were stuck in the Police Exodus Sacco supply project that has never been cleared to date.
Many crime preventers who supplied food to the Police Exodus Sacco say they were never paid. Why didn’t they receive their payment?
That supply project had its challenges and that is partly why some crime preventers have not received their payment.
In a bid to resolve the challenges, police constituted a verification committee which carried an independent audit of the supplies and approved the bills in 2019, this delayed the payment process.
The government undertook to pay what is due to crime preventers in the subsequent financial years which began last year August, so far Sh. 5 Billion has been disbursed and the remaining balance will be cleared eventually.
It is important to note that in the payment plan Mwangaza Sacco is to be cleared after all crime preventers who supplied have been cleared.