The chairman of the Appointments Board of Makerere University has ordered the suspension of research fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi for her facebook posts insulting the First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni.
Mr Bruce Baraba Kabasa yesterday wrote to the University Chancellor, Prof John Ssentamu Ddumba, directing him to suspend Dr Nyanzi.
“This communication is, therefore, to require you to implement the decision of the Appointments Board referred to above by suspending Dr Stella Nyanzi from the university service with immediate effect,” the letter reads. “ By copy of this letter, the Director Of Human Resources and Ag. Legal Affairs are required to prepare for disciplinary proceeding of the above case.”
The suspension letter issued yesterday said Dr Nyanzi had ignored earlier warnings.
“In total disregard of the aforementioned warning, Dr Nyanzi has continued to use social media to violate Section 5.7.7 of the Makerere University Human Resource Manual 2009. It’s particularly regrettable that Dr Nyanzi has made it a habit to insult, dehumanise and castigate the line Minister of Education and Sports under whose docket Makerere University’s supervision falls,” Mr Baraba said.
In various posts on her facebook page, Dr Nyanzi has attacked Ms Museveni, using vulgar language, for urging parents not to “pile children” on commuter motorbikes commonly known as boda boda.
Ms Nyanzi has also scolded Ms Museveni as the Minister of Education for failing to provide sanitary pads that would help to keep girls from poor families in school.
The academic has also used her facebook account to draw attention to the government’s human rights record, poor performance in public health care delivery, and accused it of electoral fraud in the 2016 polls which she says so her vote for Opposition presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, stolen. Dr Nyanzi’s other posts have also insinuated that there is a government hand in ongoing land grabbing, the increase in beggars on the streets and extrajudicial killings of Ugandans.
On Tuesday, Ms Museveni finally decided to respond to Dr Nyanzi, wondering in an interview she granted to NTV why she appeared to be so full of anger and hate. Ms Museveni said that she had forgiven Dr Nyanzi despite what she had written about her and the first family.
Mr Kabasa’s letter said Dr Nyanzi had refused to heed earlier warnings issued by the university administration on using social media to insult and castigate fellow university staff.
On March 6, 2017, the Director Human Resources, Makerere University, Ms Mary Tizikara wrote a warning letter to Dr Nyanzi about her social media activities.
“This is, therefore, to warn and inform you that the Appointments Board will not give you any further warning should the habit of using social media or any other means to abuse people continue,” the letter reads in part.
Hardly 24 hours after the first lady’s public expression of forgiveness, Dr Nyanzi again took to social media and this time used sexual metaphors to reject the olive branch which the first lady had extended to her. She called her names and insisted that she had not asked for any forgiveness from the first lady.
Immigration officials at Entebbe International Airport on March 19 stopped Dr Nyanzi from leaving the country, allegedly on police orders.
Mr Jacob Siminyu, the spokesman at the Internal Affairs ministry, under which the Immigration Directorate falls, said they had received instructions from police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate to prevent Dr Nyanzi from travelling because she has a case to answer.
“At Entebbe Airport, on my way to University of Amsterdam for an academic conference entitled ‘Dissident Desires - Africa/ Asia: Critical Comparative Analyses on Gender and Sexuality,” Dr Nyanzi wrote on her facebook wall shortly after an immigration officer informed her that her name was on a no-fly list.
Earlier, on March 7, detectives questioned Dr Stella over her facebook posts in which she attacked both President Museveni and Ms Museveni for allegedly running down Uganda. Police did not prefer any charges against her.
In another incident, in April last year, Dr Nyanzi undressed and took pictures and a video clip of herself, which she then posted on her facebook wall, to protest Makerere Institute of Social Research’s (MISR) decision to lock her out of her office.
Dr Nyanzi was locked out of her office because she had reportedly refused to teach MISR’s doctor of philosophy (PhD) students yet she had in 2012 committed to teach them.
After locking the office, authorities at MISR urged Dr Nyanzi to use the institute’s library to do her private consultancy work. MISR’s executive director Professor Mahmood Mamdani posted on his social networking site, accusing Dr Nyanzi of doing private research to the detriment of her core assignment— teaching the PhD programme.
Dr Nyanzi instead accused Prof. Mamdani of “blatantly abusing of [her] labour rights”. She said she would fight to her death to have her rights respected. In fighting for her rights, she turned up at MISR and even bantered with journalists, telling them she is of sound mind and how he didn’t have any regrets before hurling insults at Prof Mamdani and social media people who criticised her for being “a public nuisance” and “a disgrace to the nation”.
The State minister for Ethics, Fr Simon Lokodo, reacted to the news of Dr Nyanzi’s undressing in public with consternation and immediately called for her arrest. However, police didn’t arrest Dr Nyanzi as the minister wanted but later, through unclear circumstances, she regained her office.
- Janet Museveni (L) and Dr Stella Nyanzi.