About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fight over misguided objectives

Why the competition for power is always a quarrel over delusions rather than a contest over public policy

I argued in this column last week that governments in poor countries cannot govern by delivering a large basket of public goods and services associated with a modern state because they don’t have the human and financial resources to do so. The state in Africa faces a huge mismatch between financial human resources capacities on the one hand and the governance standards inherited from the West on the other. A significant source of our frustrations as Africans emanates from this mismatch.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A frank memo to Winnie Byanyima

Stop faking holiness. You supported and defended a government that banned all activities of political parties

Last week, Oxfam Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, accused me of losing my soul by “supporting dictatorship” and “defending gross human rights abuses”. I asked her to name a single incident where I had defended human rights abuses or dictatorial actions and she could not. I suspect that for Ms Byanyima, writing an article arguing that Uganda’s economy has sustained growth of 6.7% over the last 30 years means “supporting dictatorship” and writing another article criticising her husband, Kizza Besigye’s, campaign proposal equals “defending gross human rights abuses.”

Monday, May 2, 2016

Africa: thinking outside the box

Why leaders of poor countries are not as cruel and selfish as Western media portray them
In a moment of madness, I toyed with the idea of running for president of Uganda. I had the hubris to imagine I am the guy who can solve its myriad problems because President Yoweri Museveni is incompetent and his perennial challenger, Dr. Kizza Besigye, is a demagogue. I sought to be scientific and drew up a budget that could provide a modest basket of public goods and services associated with a modern state – education, healthcare, agriculture extension services, clean water, electricity, roads, etc. My conclusion was depressing and – I hope – illuminating.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A frank memo to our elite

Why we should downplay anecdotal evidence by looking at scientific data that gives a broader picture

So last week the cancer machine at Mulago Hospital collapsed, causing uproar in mainstream and social media. Every newspaper columnist or television/radio pundit of any heft weighed in. Daily Monitor devoted its whole Thursday opinions page on this subject. Pundits outdid each other in over-stating how this is a sign that the entire health sector “has fallen apart”. Yet cancer is not a major killer, not even among the top 20 killer diseases. So why all this self-righteous indignation?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Uganda’s failure to transform

Why in spite of registering good welfare outcomes we have made little progress at structural transformation

I have just been reading the National Population and Housing Census (NHPC) report for 2014. It shows Uganda has registered many welfare improvements, but also reveals that President Yoweri Museveni’s dream of transforming Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial society has not progressed. Let us look at welfare improvements first.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Learning from the market

FDC via Monitor and New Vision

How the competition between Monitor and New Vision has important lessons for Besigye’s next presidential election
I hope FDC takes the critical lesson from this story because many FDC officials downplay the need for organisational infrastructure to win, especially, presidential elections. They believe all they need is passionate voters. This is simply wrong. To win, passion is important; but is not sufficient.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The power of social media

How Museveni got 60% of the votes and Besigye won the election

The subject of who won the February 18 election seems to be settled among supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye. They believe their candidate won.

I have also met supporters of President Yoweri Museveni who suspect Besigye’s claims to hold some water. When your opponent sows seeds of doubt among your supporters, then you know he is either right or has won the war of public perception.