The Uganda Police's Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) has been surprisingly active of late, investigating several cases of financial impropriety in government departments. For reasons best known to the authorities, in the past the CID has not shown enthusiasm for public finance-related crime even though it is very much part of their mandate. It is, therefore, a welcome development that they have chosen to wake up to their responsibility now.
However, there are genuine fears that the CID lacks the needed capacity in its ranks to competently detect and investigate modern fraud tactics. There are also concerns that the detectives are not motivated well enough to do a good albeit difficult job.
The other factor that impedes their work is political interference or lack of political will. As long as these three broad issues are not addressed, the police can huff and puff but detectives will bungle up cases and those accused will turn around, sue the state and win billions in compensation.
Therefore, if the government seriously wants the police to take the lead in fighting corruption, as it should, the authorities must first of all give them political backing. Then they ought to build adequate capacity by training more detectives in specialised areas such as IT.
In addition, to attract not only the best brains but also those with the best character (people of integrity), the remuneration of such police officers must improve. It is wishful thinking to expect a detective who earns Shs 300,000 every month to have not only the motivation but also the fortitude to investigate a multi-billion-shilling scam without fear of being compromised.
And when all is said and done, it must be noted that the police can't do it alone. When investigations are done, they are passed on to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which takes them up from there. This department also needs the same level of support as the police if it's to do its job well.
When these institutions are empowered to perform, then they can bank on members of the public to play their part in the fight against corruption by providing necessary information.