Winnie Byanyima,the wife of Col Dr Kizza Besigye has asked the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to appoint the Kasese District Woman MP Hon. Winnie Kiiza to replace the outgoing Leader of Opposition, Hon Wafula Oguttu.
Kiiza has served as the opposition party’s Chief Whip at Parliament and previously as the Deputy Chief Whip.
Wafula Oguttu, who replaced Hon. Nandala Mafabi mid last term as the LoP was voted out of Parliament last February by the people of Bukhooli County Central.
FDC, by virtue of its numerical strength over the other opposition parties in Parliament gets to choose the Leader of Opposition.
Byanyima, who was in the country for two weeks, made her choice known on Saturday evening before she departed for her Oxfam International work.
She said the Kasese Woman MP would be an effective Leader of Opposition. “I hope FDC will endorse her,” she added.
“Winnie Kiiza is a long serving politician who cut her teeth at local government level in early 90s and won trust of her people. During violent 2001 elections, Kizza set up and led the first Reform Agenda (opposition) teams in Kasese District and won the only western seats.”
She went on to praise Kiiza as a consistent, principled, responsive and caring leader who is respected and loved in all of Kasese district.
Mrs. Byanyima, despite retiring from Ugandan politics more than a decade ago, has often been accused by critics of continuing to pull the strings at the leading opposition Party.
Byanyima was one of the founding members of the FDC-turned-Reform Agenda in the early 2000s where she served as its deputy Chairperson.
She however retired in the middle of her term as the Mbarara Municipality MP, to join international activism.
She has since used her expanded influence to support and often make recommendations on a number of issues in the opposition party.
But her critics and certain sections of the ruling NRM party attribute the little success of FDC to the fact that Winnie Byanyima and her husband Dr Besigye have tended to overshadow the work of the party.
The office of the Leader of Opposition which has in the past been a major cause of contention in FDC is currently being eyed by Dokolo Woman MP Cecilia Ogwal, Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu and Mrs. Kiiza herself.
Others interested are FDC spokesperson Semujju Nganda, the former Leader of Opposition Prof Ogenga Latigo, MPs Kaaps Fungaroo, Elijah Okupa and Odonga Otto among others.
But Byanyima was full of praises for the Kasese Woman MP with whom they share a name: “She has stood against violent repression, held Kasese district as an opposition stronghold. She is courageous and passionate about justice.”
“Winnie Kizza is an authentic and smart champion of women’s rights and rights of marginalized groups. She walks the talk. She is tested. She has solid values of social justice and equality; a great mum to her kids and partner to (Yokasi) Bihande her spouse; a role model for our girls,” she added.