Outspoken feminist, academic and Uganda government critic Dr Stella Nyanzi had given a vibrant speech at Friday’s Kampala Metropolitan Rotary fellowship minutes before she was picked up by people said to be plain clothes security agents.
Reports Saturday morning indicated she is in police custody and will be charged on Monday with various offences related to cyber harassment and offensive communication. This follows Dr Nyanzi’s recent campaign to provide free sanitary pads for school girls, during which she attacked government for their failure to live to a related campaign promise.
Emma, writing on one of Dr Nyanzi’s favourite platforms facebook, described her presentation last night as brilliant, saying “I had the opportunity of introducing Dr Stella Nyanzi during our Friday Kampala Metropolitan Rotary fellowship. She’s such a brilliant, indomitable and result oriented person. Very schooled yet with humility and down to earth person.”
Nyanzi is a medical anthropologist, and social activist with a Ph.D. from the University of London based on ethnographic fieldwork of youth sexualities, sexual and reproductive health in The Gambia.
— Maria Burnett (@MariaHRWAfrica) April 7, 2017
Kampala police spokesman confirms academic Stella Nyanzi is in custody charged with cyber harassment & offensive communication #Uganda
— Michael O’Hagan (@micoh) April 8, 2017
— Wilfred Businge (@IamWilfredB) April 8, 2017
Police due to address presser on Dr Stella Nyanzi’s arrest. Sources intimate she is being held in Kireka
— Mujuni Raymond (@qataharraymond) April 8, 2017
Janet Museveni reacts
Dr Nyanzi’s recent social media rants resulted in the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni responding in a video message in which she said she had forgiven the academic.
Janet Museveni posted on facebook an interview she had with NTV, in which she reacted to recent criticism by the fiery Makerere University researcher Nyanzi.
Using sexual innuendos, Dr Nyanzi criticized the First Lady, for what she claims, is her failure to push government to implement a campaign promise to provide sanitary pads to school going children.
Dr Nyanzi stepped up her criticism on social media after last week’s interview in which, the First Lady speaking as Education Minister, criticized the long hours children spend at primary school and their transportation to school.
She particularly criticized the practice of sending children to school unaccompanied on boda bodas (motor cycles).
“I have received reports about Dr Stella Nyanzi insulting me. I don’t know what wrong I committed to deserve that kind of language and abuse. However, I want to tell Ugandans that I forgive her,” Janet Museveni told NTV.
Early last month, Nyanzi had vowed to continue her social media campaign in which she is criticizing government for failure to provide sanitary towels for primary school children.
Nyanzi, grilled by Police then, said she was critical because it was disappointing for Minister of Education and Sports to appear on a national television telling Ugandans that her ministry had failed to include on the budget provision of sanitary towels to girls across the country.
“If they want to stop me from expressing my views on social media, they should put me on a firing squad. I graduated with my first degree in mass communication in 1997 and I have been communicating freely since then through various channels. Why are they stopping me now? Is it because I talked about the first lady,” Nyanzi remarked. Nyanzi was speaking to journalists at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters Kibuli after four hours of questioning.
She had been summoned to answer queries regarding what Police say is an offensive face book post where she attacked First Lady Janet Museveni and the government for failure to provide sanitary towels to school going girls.
In a letter dated March 2, 2017, Nyanzi was summoned for her offensive communication and cyber harassment that is being investigated under reference number CID HQTRS GEF 122/2017.
“Pursuant to section 27A of the Police Act, you are required to report to Criminal Investigations Directorate Headquarters in Kibale on Tuesday 7th /03/2017 at 10.00hrs to assist in providing valuable information in respect to the matter being investigated,” reads a letter signed by Joseph Obwona on behalf of the director criminal investigations.
“It seems the government wants me to praise it which I can never do. I am only sympathizing with the many school going children who are dropping out of school as a result of issues evolving around menstrual hygiene,” said Nyanzi.
Nyanzi was accompanied by Mukono Municipality Member of parliament Betty Nambooze Bakireke in a show of solidarity. Nyanzi appealed to Ugandans to challenge government by collecting sanitary towels to distribute to some of the poor students in the country.
Nambooze said she had to show support for Nyanzi as a mother who is concerned about the menstrual cycle of the many school going children that are dropping out of school annually.
“Nyanzi should be let free. She has a genuine cause, I am actually surprised that my fellow MPs from Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) are not here to fight for the rights of young girls who because of pain and fear of sudden menstrual blood flow, decide to stay home on school days due to Museven’s empty promise” .
The offer for free pads was made by the NRM’s President Yoweri Museveni in the Lango-sub region district of Alebtong as part of his re-election campaign promises in 2015.
However, while appearing before Parliament’s education committee chaired by Mbale woman MP Nakayenze Connie Galiwango to discuss its sh2.6 trillion budget proposal for the 2017/18 financial year last month , the minister for education and sports said there is no money to provide sanitary pads for girls in school this financial year.