Friday, August 17, 2012

Editorial: Credible probe team needed for chopper crashes - Uganda

Thursday, 16 August 2012 22:37 

From the joyful return of our Olympic hero Stephen Kiprotich to the sad demise of at least three Ugandan soldiers in helicopter crashes in Kenya, this week has been a mixed bag of joy and sorrow. Having had our say on Kiprotich’s victory in our last issue, today we turn to the tragic events on Mount Kenya that have not only cost us lives of dedicated soldiers but also very expensive military equipment.

It must be said that the full extent of the loss is still unclear as rescue and recovery efforts continue. What is clearer, though, is that at least three soldiers are dead, another three are unaccounted for, and three military attack helicopters that were headed for African Union (Amisom) duty in Somalia have been destroyed.

To be fair, Ugandans can only expect to draw informed conclusions once investigations have been completed. However, that assumes that there will be a credible investigation in the first place.

The history of probes involving the Ugandan army (UPDF) has not been good, to mention just two: the probe into the helicopter crash that claimed the life of SPLM leader John Garang in 2005, and the inquest into the mysterious death of the former Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Defence, Brig Noble Mayombo in 2007.

Both inquiries were led by army officers, and both reports have not seen the light of day (read public domain). It is therefore not surprising that some members of Parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs committee are skeptical about the probe committee named by the commander in chief, President Museveni, to investigate this incident.

As some MPs rightly pointed out, Gen Salim Saleh, the chairman of the inquiry, is not known to be an expert on aircrafts. Besides, he carries some baggage having been named in the procurement of junk helicopters in the past.

Also, it’s wrong for the probe committee to have only army officers because the crashes are not an army but rather a Ugandan affair. Thus the team ought to include independent minded civilians with expertise in aircrafts. In a nutshell, if the probe is going to produce a credible report, its composition must be credible.


No comments:

Post a Comment