President Museveni has paid tribute to Mzee Boniface Byanyima as a “principled” politician who rejected overtures by the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) to join 19 DP MPs who crossed to the UPC side in Parliament in 1962.
Mr Museveni said he was an “active” supporter of the Democratic Party when growing up, having been inspired by the political ideals espoused by Mzee Byanyima when he was the Ankole North East DP representative in the Legislative Council.
“I was a supporter of DP. He was principled one and not like the others. He would stick to what he believed in. When I see these DP [members] of today, I just keep quiet,”Mr Museveni said.
Mr Museveni paid tribute to Mzee Byanyima as a pioneer in the fields of farming, education and politics in the Ankole region.
In Agriculture, Mzee Byanyima was the brainchild behind the evolving from subsistence livestock farming to ranch farming, Mr Museveni said.
“You can call it a revolution because in our area, farming was traditional,”Mr Museveni said of Mzee Byanyima’s achievements in turning around the fortunes of Ankole citizens in the farming sector.
In Education, Mr Museveni said Mzee Byanyima was qualified to teach at a time when qualified teachers were scarce in Ankole. Mzee Byanyima was a teacher at Mbarara High School and taught Museveni there.
In politics, Mzee Byanyima was eulogised as an upright politician who could not shy away from the principles he believed in.
“When I joined the freedom struggle, although he remained in DP, we remained on good terms although he was worried that I would become a communist. He kept on telling me baitu mwana we tolija kuba omu communist (But you boy, won’t you become a communist?],”Mr Museveni said.
Mzee Byanyima’s body is currently lying in state at Parliament with a special sitting to pay tribute to one of Uganda’s eminent pre-and post-independence politicians to be convened at 2:00pm.
There will be a funeral service tomorrow at St Paul’s Cathedral, Namirembe and an ecumenical service at his home in Ruti, Mbarara district on Sunday morning before he is laid to rest later in the afternoon.