“I have no relationship with the first family,” FDC presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye, has declared.
Besigye was responding to a question asked by at the Uganda presidential TV debate last evening by a fellow candidate, Maureen Kyalya, as to whether he is related to the first family.
Kyalya said Besigye’s wife, Winnie Byanyima [Oxfam boss and former Mbarara Municipality Woman MP] is President Yoweri Museveni’s sister making Besigye the president’s brother-in-law.
She also noted that it was not fair for power to keep rotating within the first family.
“I have no relation to the first family. Neither does my wife,” Besigye responded quickly.
On power being held by the first family, Besigye said he had nothing against the members of the first family seeking offices in power.
“All we need is a just system and its about people deciding.”
Besigye-Museveni-Byanyima family triangle
In his article titled: “Like father and prodigal son” and published by The Independent Magazine on Sunday, 22 July 2012, Andrew Mwenda, says Mzee Boniface Byanyima, an Ankole elder and Democratic Party politician, has had a love-hate relationship with President Yoweri Museveni.
President Yoweri Museveni and Mzee Boniface Byanyima were once like father and son, writes Mwenda.
He notes that Museveni grew up in the Byanyima homestead (commonly known to as Green Cottages) in Ruti, 4km outside Mbarara town, along Kabale Road.
That’s where he spent many of his high school and, later, university holidays.
The Byanyimas treated him as their own, and to this day, Museveni’s high school and university books hold their place in the Byanyima family library.
Museveni’s name, “Yoweri Tibuhaburwa”, is inscribed on the covers in his own handwriting.
But beyond their positions of guardian and ward, continues Mwenda, Museveni and Mzee Byanyima “shared an intellectual affinity that is rare even amongst contemporaries”.
“Museveni himself has confessed that when he was entering politics, it was only Mzee Byanyima who understood and encouraged him. And for that he would be eternally grateful to him.”
According to Museveni, Mzee Byanyima would even give him money to mobilise Bahima in places like Buganda to return to Ankole; as a Member of Parliament in the 1960s, Mzee Byanyima had tried to heal Bahima-Bairu differences in Ankole and bring back Bahima scattered all over the country, but says he met stiff opposition from the governments of the time.
Mwenda further writes that Museveni “grew up angry, never really understanding the source of his anger until he met Mzee Byanyima in his early teens” and it was Byanyima who helped him start the realisation of his life’s goals and this marked the beginning of the very strong bond.
Museveni tries to marry Winnie Byanyima
Mwenda writes that Museveni and Byanyima fellout when during the bush war, “Museveni began an intimate relationship with the old man’s second daughter, Eng. Winnie Byanyima, now wife of opposition leader Dr Kiiza Besigye”.
“When Museveni’s National Resistance Army took power and he became President, he went to Mzee Byanyima and told him he was going to marry his daughter. The old man and his late wife Gertrude opposed the proposal.”
Apparently, Mzee Byanyima told Winnie the relationship would never work because Museveni was already married to Janet and “he knew the personalities of Museveni and Winnie – both highly opinionated and strong-headed – and said they would never be compatible”.
Although Winnie insisted, continues Mwenda, “like the old man had predicted, that relationship later fell apart and the two never married”.
The journalist says the second dispute arose over the management of the Ranch Restructuring Scheme in Ankole in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Mzee Byanyima accused President Museveni of sending “armed government thugs” to his ranch in Nyabushozi, settling hundreds of people on it, destroying his developments, stealing his cows and infecting those left with diseases that decimated his stock.
Mzee Byanyima seemingly reconciled with Museveni at State House, Entebbe in June 2011.
Mwenda, however, quotes the old man telling his daughter that although he was married to Besigye [in 1998], he did not believe they would ever defeat Museveni, because “the Museveni I know would never let you.”
Speaking at the Serena hotel presidential debate, Besigye was asked whether he had a personal problem with Museveni since he had resolved to boycott the debate citing Museveni’s absence.
He argued that the President, in power for 30 years, has hijacked the state and fused himself with the state that any discussion on Uganda cannot be separated from him.