Stella Nyanzi, a human rights activist and staunch government critic who once described President Yoweri Museveni as “a pair of buttocks”, has on Friday received an 18-month jail sentence after she was found guilty of cyber harassment against the person of the President.
Nyanzi, a former researcher at Makerere University, was arrested on 2 November after posting a poem on Facebook that the state deemed abusive towards Museveni and his late mother.
She was acquitted of a charge of offensive communication. Having already spent nine months behind bars, Nyanzi is expected to remain in prison for a further nine months.
The poem, posted on 16 September, the day after Museveni’s 74th birthday, suggested the president should have died at birth and accused him of corroding “all morality and professionalism out of our public institutions in Uganda”.
In Kampala on Thursday evening, magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu branded the poem “offensive and vulgar”.
“The use of obscenity cannot be justified in any society,” Kamasanyu said. “It didn’t matter who the post was referring to.”
Asked if she wanted to address the court in an attempt to reduce her sentence, Nyanzi replied: “Send me to Luzira [maximum security prison]. I am proud [of what] I told a dirty, delinquent dictator.”
She added: “I want to embolden the young people … I want them to use their voices and speak whatever words they want to speak.”
The court in Kampala was packed with activists, members of parliament, pressure groups, and leaders from different political parties.