As Uganda prepares for an official burial of late Boniface Byanyima, who passed away on Tuesday at Kampala’s Nakasero Hospital more details about his frosty relationship with ‘son’ and former student President Yoweri Museveni have emerged.
The latest in the secrets is why one of the pioneer leaders of Ugandan politics, Mzee Byanyima blocked the then reported blossoming affair between Museveni and his daughter Winnie Karagwa Byanyima, now wife to Museveni’s arch political enemy, Dr. Kizza Besigye.
Retrieved from a 30th March 2006 interview with Benon Herbert Oluka of Weekly Observer (now The Observer), the late Byanyima said that Museveni twice proposed to marry Winnie but he blocked the union because ‘Museveni was not a reliable character’.
According to Museveni’s former teacher at Mbarara High School, the long-serving Uganda leader was cohabiting with Winnie Byanyima while already married to First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Kataaha Museveni.
Their extramarital affair started from Museveni’s successful guerrilla war waged between 1981 and 1986 against the government of Milton Obote, and later that of Tito Okello. The late Byanyima in the interview described how he was heartbroken when his gorgeous daughter Winnie joined Museveni in the bush when he expected her to be in Europe after studying her engineering degree at Manchester University in the United Kingdom.
Byanyima said, “Museveni proposed to marry Winnie, which I opposed and told my daughter that Museveni was not a reliable character. I think it was in 1987. By then he was married to Janet (Kataaha). I knew that.”
“First, there came his father Amos (Kaguta) to propose. I said no. Then Museveni came when he was president. I said I can’t agree. I said if you are going to marry her .. if she wants, it will be her responsibility. I don’t want that. They stayed together for a while. When people are staying together, you don’t know for how long (but) they were staying together at Entebbe.”
“Then Karangwa (Winnie) realized that Museveni was not a good person to stay with. I think she discovered what I had told her about the character of Museveni, so she left Museveni and his government.”
“When Museveni became President, after a month or two, he started coming here. He was always coming here every week or every month to see me. First, he came to ask to marry my daughter, which I refused. He was not annoyed because he knew I would not allow it. He took it lightly. That didn’t prevent him from coming here often to say hello. He continued to appear friendly.”
Besigye knew, powerless
Besigye on 23 December 2006 in an interview with IOL, one of South Africa’s leading multi-platform content companies confirmed on Saturday that he knew about an affair which Museveni once had with his wife, but said that this had not been the cause of the two men’s political rivalry.
“Yes, they had a relationship but I do not consider that this (Museveni-Winnie) relationship has a connection with his relationship with me,” the physician said. “What Museveni does to me, he can do it to anybody else who opposes him.”
“What Museveni does to me, he can do it to anybody else who opposes him.”
Earlier, the independent newspaper The Daily Monitor had quoted the 49-year-old politician as telling a local radio station that there was no doubt “Winnie had a relationship with president Museveni but my differences with Museveni were long before this (Besigye- Winnie) relationship was there.”
Besigye added that “Museveni can act with viciousness if anyone goes against him. It is all to do with power.”
Before Besigye’s first comment on his wife’s relationship with the head of state in a story run in The Daily Monitor, all three major political parties kept silent on the subject during the 2006 election campaigning.
But a then spokesperson for Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Party did not mince words when reached by dpa Saturday.
Oguttu said Museveni still loved Winnie and might not give up on her.
“Museveni still loves Winnie. He has never given up on her up to this day. I think Museveni has a negative attitude against Besigye because of Winnie.
“We also think that Museveni saw Besigye as a man who disrespected him when he went against him in politics,” Oguttu said, claiming that Museveni had kept a number of mistresses, but “it was only Winnie who was courageous enough” to leave him.