A fierce “word combat” broke out on social media after the director of communications at Uganda’s legislative house, Chris Obore, took a swing on Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima.
Byanyima, a wife to opposition strongman Kizza Besigye and a former Mbarara municipality MP, has stayed clear of Ugandan politics ever since she embarked on international engagements.
But Obore, a former journalist at Daily Monitor, had to find a reason for dragging her into the political mire.
He accuses her of claiming to be a goddess of what is right and wrong in the country.
“So is Byanyima’s work at Oxfam attacking others? Or claiming to be a goddess of what is right or wrong in Uganda?” Obore tweeted.
Byanyima [she is no one’s millet], replied instantly: “I am a citizen of Uganda enjoying and exercising same rights as other citizens to raise my voice on public issues.”
The field was then opened to spectators. A one Albert Abaasa pointed out that “Chris is too toxic for Parliament! Radio maybe, NRM/FDC secretariat cd also suit him.”
Obore was not yet defeated. He told Abaasa to “just advise Winnie to respect born again Christians and their rights instead of her posturing as author of good in Uganda.”
Obore pushed on, accusing Byanyima of “believing intelligence means worshiping her and her dreams”.
“Anyone disagreeing with her suffers blackmail. She has been like that,” he pointed out.
A one Nkugwa Mukasa Joseph who had been following the battle of words in silence, realised at this point that he could not take it anymore.
He turned to Obore: “Why do I find Obore’s critics the pretenders? Man’s job is to defend Parliament same way you hire a lawyer even when you are a murderer.”
Looking beyond the petty childish prattle, Byanyima sought to educate Obore, saying global organisations look for stability, democratic space, free/plural media, rule of law, low corruption level, good ICT and other infrastructure—of which Uganda is lacking.
“All Ugandans must be allowed to freely express their views for or against issues of national importance to them,” she noted.
“Yes, let’s all fundraise and top up his already very attractive President’s retirement package. A well-deserved send off to a safe retirement,” she said, referring to a current fundraising campaign to secure President Museveni’s retirement package.
Not long ago, Amnesty International pushed Ugandan authorities to end their absurd attempts to silence people opposed to scrapping the presidential age limit.
“It is ironic and absurd that as the bill is tabled in parliament, the government is blocking citizens from debating the issue,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“All Ugandans must be allowed to freely express their views for or against issues of national importance to them. The actions the government is taking in this case amount to criminalizing dissent and contravene both Ugandan and international law.”
The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS), a policy think-tank, who has spoken out against the proposal, was detained in his office for most of the day today following an overnight police siege there. ActionAid, an international NGO that works to combat poverty and injustice, was also raided on the same grounds.
The ruling party wants to amend the constitution to remove the presidential age limit of 75 years of age. The move is widely seen as a way of allowing incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, 73, to stand for President again in 2021.