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



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The war against NSSF and Umeme

How improved performance of the two companies tends to attract increasing hostility from parliament and the public

The Members of Parliament in Uganda, supported by a loud section of our chattering elite class, seem determined to hold to wrong things dearly even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Last year, a select committee of parliament recommended that government terminate a concession agreement with electricity distributor, Umeme. It provided considerable grist to the anti Umeme mill. Then two weeks ago, another select committee recommended that then-minister of Finance, the chairman of the board and the managing director of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) are punished for buying shares in Umeme; a company they claimed is “making losses”. Again, the anti NSSF-Umeme coalition went wild in celebration.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

To stay or not to stay

How the debate on amending the Constitution to remove term limits is evolving in Rwanda and the issues to consider

President Paul Kagame recently said he does not want Rwanda to amend the constitution to remove term limits. But I do not think this will stop calls by ordinary citizens who want him to stay. If I were not conversant with Rwanda, I would have thought this is an argument by the president’s courtiers telling lies to retain power. Whoever underestimates the amount of pressure on Kagame to stay should try a referendum. Indeed Kagame has rigged the debate by taking a position. This places senior politicians and military and security chiefs in a difficult position of having to openly disagree with their boss. But even this may not stop the momentum that has begun at the grassroots.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Reforming education in Uganda Part II

How Uganda’s politics cannot create a government that delivers public goods and services efficiently

Last week, I proposed the need to rethink the role of the state to fix our education system. I argued that we should separate the financing of education from its provision. The state should retain a role in financing and wherever possible outsource provision to the private sector. I proposed that we do this by giving vouchers to poor parents to send their kids to good private schools.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Looking at Museveni-Kagame frustrations

Unhappy with their officials, what the two presidents are asking for is a return to the past, not a leap to the future

Three weeks ago, President Paul Kagame; during a government leadership retreat, expressed disaffection with top officials for delaying government projects unnecessarily. Then last week, President Yoweri Museveni, during Uganda’s leadership retreat, expressed a similar sentiment about his ministers.

Kagame and Museveni’s frustrations provided considerable grist to their critics’ mill. I received many cheeky messages saying: we have always told you that these governments are not working; now the two presidents have admitted it themselves.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reforming education in Uganda

Why government should separate financing of education in order to allow poor families access quality education

On Sunday, I attended a global education forum in Dubai. Sheik Mohammed Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda were there as well as former presidents, Bill Clinton (USA), Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and education ministers of several countries and cities. The main challenges were: how do we increase access to education? Is this possible without compromising quality? How can education be made affordable? What curriculum can best prepare students to face the challenges of modern life; like employment? What should be the role of governments, the private sector, parents, churches, and citizens in increasing access to education and improving its quality?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The attempted coup against Oyo

What Batooro have failed to do about the kingdom and how it forced the king to live in Buganda

In early March, David Kijanangoma, a grandson of King George Rukidi III announced that he had overthrown King Oyo Nyimba Kabamba’Iguru Rukiidi IV of the great Kingdom of Toro. He said he had decided on this coup in large part because his cousin; Oyo, has abdicated his duties as king. He charged that Oyo is an absentee king who lives in another kingdom, Buganda, only going to Toro as a visitor.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fooling others for self aggrandizement

How US uses the language of freedom and human rights to undermine the cause of democracy in other countries

Almost a month ago, Fareed Zakaria hosted Barack Obama on his CNN show, GPS. Zakaria asked the U.S. president why America supports dictatorships like the ones in Saudi Arabia and Jordan when it is supposed to promote democracy around the world. Obama said he has to deal with the world as it is, not as he would wish it to be. America needs (and has) allies but some of them do not share its values. Yet he has to work with them to promote America’s interests. He said he cannot force these allies to adopt American values but he can (and does) try to influence them to reform through quiet diplomacy.