Kayiira, Museveni were power-hungry, says Nyanzi

Kayiira, Museveni were power-hungry, says Nyanzi Print E-mail
Written by Michael Mubangizi
Sunday, 17 January 2010 18:36
Evaristo Nyanzi

In our continuing series, MZEE EVARISTO NYANZI tells MICHAEL MUBANGIZI about his support for Andrew Kayiira’s Uganda Freedom Movement as well as Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army rebels during the 1980s bush war, and how the personality differences between Museveni and Kayiira, and love for power, stood in the way of merging their two rebel groups. Nyanzi also expresses his low opinion of the inter-party alliance, and talks about the problems facing his party, DP.Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM) was led by Andrew Kayiira. I was in DP with Kayiira together with people like Kafumbe Mukasa. When the 1980 elections were rigged, we were annoyed and I remember we held a meeting to discuss the way forward.

Some people openly advocated for a rebellion but some of us said, “okay, some can go into rebellion but those of us who have been elected should go to Parliament and fight from there; we shall support you.”

So Kayiira led UFM into the bush and we remained in Parliament but kept in touch with them while supporting them morally, with funds and materials. We also mobilised people, which was very easy because people were very responsive.

That was around the time NRA was also fighting in Luwero and for me I wasn’t attached to any group. I supported both of them because they weren’t the same. UFM was mainly here in Buganda and NRA was all over the country, including Buganda.

I was mobilising for rebel activities and couldn’t tell people to support one and leave the other. I was interested in pursuing the war, executing and winning it. These two groups (UFM and NRA) were both strong. I also had friends in both of them, so I couldn’t shut my eyes on any of them.


We wanted them to be one but the personalities involved (Museveni and Kayiira) were the problem. And you couldn’t force them. I think it was a problem of leadership. They would ask, “If we take over, who will be the leader in charge of the presidency?” So it was a question of personalities because all of them wanted to be leaders.

But we said okay, the two groups can continue fighting separately. At some stage, UFM subsided and Kayiira went oversees. His place was taken over by (George) Nkwanga who changed the UFM name. I don’t remember why he changed the name but his group had a different name, which I don’t remember.

The first attack by the NRA rebels took place in my constituency -Mpigi North West at a place called Bubule. The Kabamba attack came after this. I knew it was NRA because I know who did it, although I don’t want to reveal the names.

Because of this, and my support for NRA and UFM rebels, Paulo Muwanga (Vice President) and his people were suspicious of me and that made me a target. In fact, Muwanga never made a speech without mentioning my name.
I had an opponent in UPC called Israel. He was always ridiculing me and doing all sorts of things in my area.

One morning, while I was in Germany with Paulo Ssemogerere, they (rebels) got hold of him and his assistant, tied ropes around their necks, killed them and threw their bodies in a nearby swamp. So Muwanga suspected that since he was my opponent, I had a hand in his murder.


The NRA could not have been positive about the take-over of 1985 because some one was robbing them of victory. You see, they had been fighting to take power and then a group of people opportunistically took power before them.

After overthrowing Obote, the Lutwa group had no political back-up [and couldn’t run government alone]. So they came to some of us for back up. They asked some political parties to support them by giving them people to work with. For DP, they approached Ssemogerere and he joined them. That is how they picked a few of us and placed us in ministries. I was myself placed in the Ministry of Cooperatives and Marketing.

On whether it wasn’t a contradiction for him to work with the Lutwas since they were with Obote in the 1980 elections which he claims were rigged?

Yes, they were party [to the 1980 elections] but you see at that time we were politicians. We weren’t in armed service, so when they approached us, we decided to join them. We thought it was a good idea at the time and it solved some problems.

In fact, we bridged the gap between the two groups and brought Lutwa and Museveni together in the Nairobi Peace Talks where Ssemogerere was a key person. The talks, however, failed partly because NRA didn’t trust Lutwa and company. So there was a question of mistrust and despising.

There was also a feeling that NRA could win the war, so rather than coming out, some people decided to continue with the war. You see, Museveni was going to become vice chairman. He must have said, “If I can [fight and] win the war and become the president, why should I [negotiate]?” And of course he had the support of the people. People did not support Lutwa; they continued to support the rebels.

On how different were Lutwa and Obote?

I think the difference between Obote and the Lutwa group was almost negligible. And I could feel it myself as a minister in their group. So many people had been killed in our constituencies during the war. There were particularly many skulls in my constituency, in Muduuma and Kiligente counties.

I decided to go and console my people, collect their dear ones and bury them. I buried very many skulls at Muduuma, and at Kilingente, on the same day. When I came back, I learnt the Lutwas were not happy with my action because it apparently put them to shame. They were involved [in the fighting] and were now leaders; they felt that I shouldn’t have done it.

From that time, I started mistrusting them and wasn’t comfortable anymore because I realised that they were up to something. Actually I feared for my life because they could organise to eliminate me.

So the Museveni take over [of January 1986] was a relief for me. However, that is not the reason I worked with Museveni. For us we worked for Uganda. For instance, we didn’t join Lutwa because we loved him, but we thought it was a way out of the problems our people were facing. When Museveni came, we hoped we weren’t going back as a country.

On whether it was Museveni who approached Nyanzi

I don’t know how that happened; that was between Museveni and Ssemogerere as leader of opposition [and DP President General] who led us. But I remember one evening Ssemogerere told us that we had been invited by the leader (Museveni) and we were going to meet him at Nakasero. So we went. Other people in the group included Kafumbe Mukasa, Ssebaana Kizito and Sam Kutesa who was in DP at the time, and a few others.

At State House we discussed a few things (laughs). That meeting was actually about confidence building, it was followed by other meetings. The gist in those meetings was about us working together. I don’t remember any objections to that; we agreed just as we had agreed with the Okellos.

On whether he is still in DP?

I have never left DP, at least not officially. I am just quiet partly because of old age. I have been active in politics for a very long time and I have gone through these difficulties I have enumerated. I found that it is high time for me particularly in these last years in this life to enjoy life, be quiet and happy. I don’t want to be disturbed again. So I just want to be quiet with my people, but I wish everybody success in whatever they do.

On DP performing poorly in recent elections…

They have a very big problem which they must identify and find a solution for. I wouldn’t want to discuss that with you but if they come and consult me, I will tell them.

On the growing concern that DP is a Baganda party. For instance, all its nine MPs are Baganda, all its president generals have been Baganda…

That could be part of the problem and that is why I am saying they should identify the problem. Personally I don’t think it is a Baganda party, but it is how you handle the organisation that matters. If you neglect certain people, areas; definitely, it will have a negative impact on your organisation and you must always avoid that. We used to avoid it. Make it purely a national party, have leaders from each area.

Have a strong leadership in Buganda, Busoga, Busigu, Acholi, Ankole, Bunyoro. Have a national party with strong leadership across the country because that is where you collect the votes; you don’t just stand here [in Kampala] and say we are a national party. Unless you do that, then you are wasting your time. And this may be part of the [DP] problem.

However, you can’t call it a dead party. It is a party with problems. Because you see its record is clean. It not like UPC, but the problem is that you must make sure you run the party nationally.

Assessing party presidential hopefuls Mao, Lubega, Sebaggala…

I haven’t interacted with them. You see I am a bit dormant, so I don’t want to assess somebody I have not studied. It is difficult for me to tell you who should be the next party president.

On DP’s refusal to join the inter-party co-operation

I think DP is right. They must strengthen the party first. I would rather have a strong party than a strong union of parties.

On some people believing a coalition would help them defeat Museveni

But they can’t do it even with a coalition. I don’t think they can remove him. You would rather go out as a party and appeal to the people as such and win. Then some people can join you if you are a strong party.

On where he sees DP in the future

It will depend on the leadership. If they have a good leadership, they have a future, if they have a bad leadership, then that is the end of the party.

Does he see it in State House?

They can go in State House because you see the roots are there, but these roots have been mismanaged.

On the future of Uganda

Uganda will prosper and stabilise, if policies and actions being taken now aren’t for personal gain. If we work for posterity, then Uganda will prosper, but if you institute policies, programmes to serve interests of individuals, then you are sowing bad seeds for the future.

Assessing Museveni…

He has tried his best. Of course he is a human being, he has his weaknesses but he has his strong points also. I think he should listen to good advice.

Would he consider calls on Museveni to retire as good advice?

I think that is reasonable advice. Any reasonable person should see that at some stage you leave.

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About ekitibwakyabuganda

Ba Ssebo ne ba Nyabo, Twebaza Abaganda bonna abulumulirwa Obuganda . Era twebaza ne mikwano gya Buganda gyonna wonna wegiri munsi yonna. Omukutu guno gwatandikibwawo nga e’kigendererwa kwe kuyigiriza abantu ebintu ebikwatagana no’Buganda era nokuwanyisiganya ebilowozo nebanaffe abatali Baganda. Abaganda ne mikwano gya Buganda mukozese omukisa guno muwereze ebirowozo byamwe no’bubaka bwona obunaagasa Abaganda na’baana Buganda berizala mu maaso eyo. Obumu ku bubaka obuwerezebwa ku mukutu guno bugyibwa mukuwanyisiganya ebirowozo okubera kumukutu gwa Ugandan’s at Heart (UAH) Forum ogwatandikibwawo Mwami Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba. Era twebaza muzukulu wa Kintu ne Nnambi ono olw’omulimu gwakoledde bana Uganda bonna abali e’bunayira mungeri yo kubagatta mu byempuliziganya no’kutumbula okukolaganira awamu.

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