The festive season of 2016 was one of the trickiest for Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam and wife to Kizza Besigye.
When she returned from the United States, she had chosen to keep a fairly low profile as regards the arrest of her nephew, Mathew Kanyamunyu. She has only momentarily spoken to the media and revealed her presidential ambitions.
But something within her was burning. It was as though she was boxed in a certain fence. According to one of the maids in the Besigye household, there would be moments when Byanyima would be lost in thoughts, something that kept worrying the husband.
Mathew Kanyamunyu grew up in the Byanyima household. He was raised as one of her own child. It is Kanyamunyu who used to reside in the Mbarara house and took care of its daily affairs.
Byanyima thus felt it was a huge betrayal to abandon her child when he needed him the most. At one time she had secretly gone to Luzira prison to pay him a visit. Prison guards were shocked to see the two break down in tears before a single word had been shared. Kanyamunyu had pleaded with his ‘mother’ to help save him from the pains of Luzira. Thereafter, a certain gentleman in the Besigye household was assigned the responsibility of delivering food to Kanyamunyu in prison and updating his aunt about his condition.
But it was on the weekend when all hell broke lose. Two little girls from the Kanyamunyu family paid Byanyima visit in Kasangati. These two girls happen to be Byanyima’s favourite nieces. As they played around in the well mowed gardens, one asked Byanyima about Mathew. She was lost for words.
“It was at this point in time that Byanyima decided enough was enough, she was willing to sacrifice political capital to be there for one of her own. Mathew has been losing weight drastically and his businesses are falling apart. She knew she had to help,” this maid in the household tells us.
Thus on Tuesday Byanyima had already won the mental fight. She picked up her blue kitenge, her dark shades and headed straight for court. It was one of the hardest decisions she had taken in life, the other having been when she left State house to make way for the current First Lady’s return from Sweden.
As you all know when they got to court, the rest is history. Byanyima’s appearance at court has divided camps, with some siding with her while others castigating her for the decision. It remains to be seen what the general public view of her decision will be in the longterm.