At the burial of Matia Mujuzi Ssekabugaali at Sagala village near Kyotera township, about 186 kilometres south of Kampala, the head of operations at Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Maj. Gen. Elly Kayanja faced off with Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine).
The two men claimed to have a strong attachment to the deceased who has been a renowned farmer, businessman and opinion leader.
Kayanja’s history with the deceased dates far back to the early 1980s when he helped the National Resistance Army (NRA) to recruit young men from the Masaka area into rebel ranks.
Despite his collaboration with the rebel group that eventually captured state power in January, 1986, Mujuzi remained a strong supporter of the opposition Democratic Party (DP).
Kyagulanyi on the other hand told mourners that Mujuzi had been one of his political mentors whom he met regularly at his residence in Ntinda, Kampala.
Their last meeting was a week before he fell sick and eventually died of what health officials called Covid-19 but disputed by the family.
With Gen. Kayanja’s influence, a maximum of 300 mourners had been allowed to attend the funeral but the numbers surged when word spread that Kyagulanyi was among the mourners.
According to Kayanja, the police did not allow any political speeches at the funeral but the moment Kyagulanyi arrived in company of MPs, Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality), Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East), Medard Lubega Sseggona (Busiro East) and Robina Ssentongo (Kyotera Woman), among other National Unity Platform (NUP) and People Power activists, it took a political turn.
“This could be my only chance to address you the people of Kyotera because the state has made it impossible for us to reach you. I want to tell that I will be a candidate in the 2021 presidential elections,” Kyagulanyi said amidst ululations.
“When President Museveni was my age, he picked guns and waged war against the government, I’m using peaceful means. He stealthily mobilised the population, I am mobilising openly; we are on a mission to end Museveni’s 35-year rule but we want to do it peacefully because we don’t believe in bloodshed,” he added.
Kayanja appeared uncomfortable as Kyagulanyi went through his more than 30 minutes address and the moment he was invited to speak, he said he had received warnings from the police.
“The police are blaming me for bringing a political gathering here. It’s because of who Mujuzi was that they haven’t opened fire and teargas to disperse you,” Kayanja said.
He was booed and heckled but persisted with his speech, raising his voice at intervals, as he vowed not to let NUP swallow DP.
“Mujuzi spoke to me regularly, and I know him as a man who was truthful and just. Not at anyone time did he tell me about his involvement with People Power. You can’t come here and hijack us. As an army officer, I regard that as a coup; I can’t allow you to do it,” Kayanja said.
Despite the absence of DP leaders at the funeral, Kayanja insisted that the deceased had to be buried as a DP member.
“We have to respect him and send him off as a member of the DP because that is what he believed in,” he said.
The body was kept away from the mourners until the speeches and prayer mass were concluded and that is when the government Covid-19 burial team drove in and buried him.