Isaac Ssekamadde, the Lawyer of Makerere University Research Fellow, Dr. Stella Nyanzi has written to the university to drop the disciplinary proceedings against his client. In an April 5th letter to Mary Tizikara, the Human Resource Director Makerere University, Ssekamadde argues that the charges slapped against Nyanzi are inconsistent with the freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution of Uganda.
“We urge you once more to immediately terminate those so called disciplinary proceedings and make the necessary arrangements to give our client sufficient reparations for inconvenience and injury so far caused to her,” the letter reads in part. Adding that, “let it be stated once more that the charges framed against our client relating to her alleged social media comments are inconsistent with her right to freedom of expression and other constitutional imperatives, including academic freedom in the 2011 public universities and other tertiary institutions act.”
He contends that by attempting to suppress Dr. Nyanzi’s free speech through the ungazetted university human resource manual as well as the unjustified warning and suspension, the appointments board has failed to appreciate her freedom expression. Ssekamadde warns the university to “cease and desist not only from acting like the thought police in a tyrannical regime but also from the misguided campaign of harassment, intimidation and victimization of Dr. Nyanzi through endless disciplinary proceedings.”
Fresh trouble for Dr. Nyanzi started last week when she posted a strongly worded message on her Facebook wall criticizing First lady and Education Minister, Janet Museveni for failing to prevail over government to provide sanitary towels for girls in school. As a result, Prof Ddumba Ssentamu, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor suspended Dr. Nyanzi on recommendation from the appointments board.
In his letter, Bruce Kabasa, the Chairman, Makerere University board noted that Dr. Nyanzi had “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.”
Section 5.7.7 of the Makerere University Human Resource Manual lists offences that constitute misconduct including use of abusive or insulting language. Mary Tizikara, the Human Resource Director Makerere University couldn’t be reached for comment. But the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ddumba confirmed receiving the letter.
“The letter has been written to the university human resource director but I have received a copy. Regarding its content, I have no comment now because it (letter) will be discussed by the university appointments’ board.” Dr. Stella Nyanzi isn’t new to controversy. In April last year, Dr.Nyanzi clashed with Professor Mahmood Mamdani, the Director Makerere Institute for Social Research leading to her suspension.
It all started after Prof. Mamdani directed Dr. Nyanzi to vacate her office for alleged failure to meet her contractual obligations.