Supporters of Dr. Stella Nyanzi, the Makerere University Fellow who has been charged with insulting the president through social media postings showed up in strong numbers in court today as her lawyers opposed the Ugandan government’s attempt to have her subjected to a mental evaluation.
Also in court to lend moral support was Dr. Kizza Besigye, who is considered by many Ugandans to be the legitimate winner of last year’s presidential election.
Separately, a social media campaign by supporters to raise money for her legal defense and to care for her three children exceeded its target of $5,000.
Dr. Nyanzi’s supporters believe it’s Uganda’s leaders who need mental evaluation for spending millions on luxury items while people lack basic services. Supporters say a government that is failing to deliver wants to tarnish her reputation to deflect the legitimate criticism she’s raised even if some of her postings have been highly salacious.
The president for example flies in a $50 million Gulfstream jet in a country with average income of $700 according to the World Bank.
Dr. Nyanzi today was represented by lawyers Nicholas Opiyo of Chapter Four Uganda, Isaac S, and Eron Kizza, a Human Rights Lawyer. They objected to the state’s application and filed a motion at the High Court to bar any tests on Dr. Nyanzi. Additionally her application for bail will be heard tomorrow.
Today’s proceedings was before Chief Magistrate James Ereemye at Buganda Road Court. The State Prosecutor claims a person of Dr. Nyanzi’s stature wouldn’t behave the way she does if she was normal
Dr. Nyanzi’s case gained worldwide coverage after she was arrested and charged when she compared Gen. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president of 31 years, to a “pair of buttocks” on a Facebook posting. Dr. Nyanzi was apparently suggesting that his words were worth vapors emanating from posteriors. She had complained in a series of posting criticizing Gen. Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni for reneging on a promise to provide free sanitary pads for schoolgirls. Mrs. Museveni is the minister of Education.
Mrs. Museveni also went on national television to deny Dr. Nyanzi’s accusations that she was “out of touch” with ordinary Ugandans. She said she “forgave” Dr. Nyanzi, who was then arrested shortly thereafter.
Dr. Nyanzi was subsequently charged with insulting the president and “computer misuse” under the Computer Misuse Act.
There is widespread support for her campaign for free sanitary pads for schoolgirls. Many students who can’t afford them miss several days of classes each month during their cycles.
Her supporters appeared outside the packed courtroom with some wearing FreeStella and Pads4girls T-shirts.
The case was adjourned to May 10.