A war of words erupted Friday evening through Saturday, between FDC’s four-time Presidential candidate Col Kizza Besigye’s wife Mrs. Winnie Byanyima and senior journalist Andrew Mwenda, with each attacking the other’s stature on democracy and rule of law.
The bitter exchange over social media broke out when Mwenda first picked on Winnie, after she was stopped and searched by police at her Kasangati house upon arrival from the UK.
The police are watching her husband Dr Besigye, to prevent him from leading FDC activities related to the banned ‘defiance campaign.’
Mwenda thought Winnie had just tasted her own medicine, having worked for and defended the same NRM government back in the day.
He mocked, “Winnie Byanyima and her husband Kizza Besigye with Museveni claimed such police behavior was personal to Obote. Now the two claim its personal to Museveni”
Accusing the journalist of dishonesty, the Oxfam international boss shot right back, reminding him that her record on human rights is in the Constituent Assembly and Parliament’s Hansard for all to see.
She went to accuse Mwenda, a former strong government critique of “selling his soul” to turn around and back the same “dictatorship,” that he condemned.
“You were with us in challenging a growing dictatorship till you joined the dictatorship,” she said.
Mwenda, who up to the late 2000s made an international name for his scathing and daring assaults on Government, President Museveni and his family; has often times been accused of being “bought off” by the regime to silence him.
“If the Mwenda of the 2000s met the Mwenda of today, the two would fight,” is a common reaction to his currently much more flattering observations on the NRM government.
Mwenda however, denies being bought or joining the 30year regime. He says he only recognizes the progress the NRM government has made over the years.
“Whatever its imperfections today, NRM is much more democratic than when you supported it,” he attacked Byanyima. “So why did you leave now?”
He added, “And your accusation that I joined the dictatorship is cheap talk. When did I join it? What actions prove that?”
The Independent Magazine proprietor says Byanyima lacks the moral ground to attack the NRM government which was much worse when she was part of it.
“In 1986 when you were an NRM die hard, it was a government that was not elected but had used violence to grab power. You were a strong supporter of NRM when it was killing people in Mukura, Acholi etc., and blocking political party activities,” he charged.
But Winnie was on the defensive, “I wasn’t a ‘strong supporter’ I was critical; on record challenging NRA cattle theft in Teso. Check Hansard!”
“I led fierce anti-corruption battles against NRM through 90s till I left. Mwenda u can’t change history. I criticized NRM publicly, was fired for speaking up on human rights violations. You defend dictatorship.”