M7 EXPLAINS WHY WINNIE BYANYIMA WAS IN STATE HOUSE THIS AFTERNOON
By Mulengera Reporters
Without any prompting, President Museveni has this Tuesday afternoon explained to an exclusive audience why the UNAIDS Executive Director Eng Winnie Byanyima (whose conspicuous presence had already raised journalists’ curiosity) was in Entebbe State House. The journalists, who were here for the inauguration and swearing in of the new Principal Judge Flavian Zeija and new Supreme Court Justices, had become curious on seeing the UNAIDS boss flamboyantly emerging out of the State House’s West Wing as they arrived. She was flanked by Dr Karusa Kiragu-Gikonyo, the UNAIDS Country Director for Uganda.
The two ladies ostentatiously walked out of State House and signaled their driver, cruising in a posh UN vehicle, to come and pick them. They then drove out of the State House enclosure. As they waited for the vehicle, a few courageous reporters boldly walked up to them and exchanged pleasantries but none of them had the guts to ask what Winnie Byanyima (of all people) was doing in State House where Museveni, who has four times prevented her husband KB from becoming President, resides and operates from.
But some knowledgeable scribes argued that the presence of Dr Karusa Kiragu-Gikonyo was indicative the matter the two powerful ladies had been discussing with the HE must have related to the HIV/Aids fight. To majority journalists the matter was left at that and it ended there until Museveni in a subsequent speech, without any prompting, meandered into disclosing how his delay to join the top Judicial hierarchy (who had to wait for hours) was because he was having very important legally-consequential discussions with someone he casually disclosed as “Honorable Winnie Byanyima.”
After the oaths, taking the photos with the new appointees and listening to the strictly very brief speeches from CJ Bart Katureebe and incoming Justice & Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, Museveni moved to microphone to address the fairly small audience of judicial officers, their relatives and journalists. In reference to the upcoming Judges Conference, which Katureebe had reminded him about, Museveni said he was looking forward to an interactive session with the judicial officers (judges, magistrates and registrars) in order for him to understand better their operational constraints and vice-versa.
He said in the past there are areas that created acrimony between him and the judiciary leadership largely because they belong to the elitist section of Ugandans (he called them people from the University) whose views are always sharply divergent and contrary to the ordinary common sense concept of justice as understood by “people from the bush and villagers” whose interests he said he has always championed. He gave the example of the Land Act and the processes preceding its enactment. The evidently very relaxed man from Rwakitura explained that in the process of that enactment you had two antagonistic camps namely the landlords and the majority peasants whose interests he bragged his NRM political movement has always represented and championed.
He said his NRM sought striking the balance saving the good that was enacted in the British colonialists’-sponsored Busulu and Nvujjo law of 1928 and Amin’s 1975 land decree. That in a bid to shield the interests of the poor masses, the Amin decree went to the extremes and deprived the landlords beyond what was acceptable. Museveni said the NRM avoided the Amin decree extremes and sought shielding the peasants without legislating the landlords’ interests into oblivion. He said in a society where you must strike such delicate balancing, its important he creates sufficient time to interact with Katureebe’s people during the upcoming Judges’ conference in order to create sufficient understanding that could guide them to come up with more prudent, considerate and reasonable judgments when adjudicating matters. Museveni also indirectly referred to the fact that the transition from the very old to the much younger generation was gradually beginning to take root in the judiciary.
THE BYANYIMA MEETING
To further explain why its important for judicial officers to avoid extremes while understanding the importance of striking delicate balances while adjudicating disputes brought before them, Museveni then carefully discussed the subject of homosexuality referencing on the fact that gay sex remains criminalized in Uganda, a status quo he disclosed many in the western capitals are very uncomfortable with and have continued reaching out to him pushing for decriminalization. “In fact, I have just been discussing with someone before I came here to join you. The discussion was why homosexuality is still an offence in Uganda yet some of our partners consider it to be the alternative way of life. I was telling Honorable Winnie Byanyima we have been careful and never in a hurry to amend that law because for us we are social actors and we act for social political aims. Some people are saying let’s amend that law [criminalizing homosexuality] and decriminalize it. But our position is that homosexuality has always been here and that’s why we have words like ebisiyaga in Luganda. The homosexuals were always known and weren’t hunted. They were ignored. They were very few,” said Museveni seemingly very carefully not to disclose much details of the discussion with the two UNAIDS bosses.
It has to be contextualized that homosexuality has always been a huge dilemma not only for Museveni for most Ugandan politicians and here is why. Criminalizing is very popular with majority Ugandans and results into significant political capital. Yet those pushing hard for continued criminalization risk being blacklisted and written by influential lobbyist in the Western capitals the very reason President Museveni years ago urged caution (as David Bahati pushed for further criminalization) disclosing he had come under a lot of direct pressure from Hillary Clinton who was Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.
BACK TO E’BBE MTG
As everybody pensively listened, Museveni (careful not to speech much about the delicate subject of homosexuality) then added (after a long pause); “Now some groups in the world want us to advertise and acclaim homosexuals as an alternative way of live. They say there are two ways to life one of which is being gay but our position is homosexuality is merely deviation from the main. Though the law still criminalizes them, in reality we have tolerating those people but also advising the western partners not to provoke the big majority by not presenting homosexuality as something that should be tolerated.” He then stressed “that’s why we need to have dialogue with you the judges over these things with myself representing our bush people and the villagers.”
After that remark, Museveni (who is yet to release any photos on his social media platforms regarding the Byanyima meeting) left the matter regarding the UNAIDS meeting at that and proceeded to tackle a couple of other things including cracking endless jokes (we shall subsequently detail that) which he said were deliberately meant for the benefit of the bazukulus who had accompanied the judges that were coming to be inaugurated. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).