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



Monday, August 12, 2019

Inside the NRM struggle


William Pike’s account of the clash between Museveni’s utopia and Uganda’s hard reality

THE LAST WORD |  Andrew M. Mwenda |  A The capture of power by President Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) in January 1986 was a moment of great hope. Blood had been shed, lives lost, careers abandoned, families left behind and educations sacrificed in a heroic effort to liberate the country from tyranny. It was called a new dawn, a fresh beginning, a rebirth. Museveni’s inaugural speech reflected this mood when he promised “a fundamental change in the politics of our country.” There would be democracy and freedom. And there would be rapid economic development to transform the lives of Ugandans.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The dangers to our liberty



Why we should be wary of the influence of new communication technologies in the hands of extremists 

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In 1948 George Orwell published his novel, 1984. It is a classic statement of the danger to individual liberty posed by increasing technological sophistication, especially in the hands of the state. The novel is set in a country with an all-powerful state, otherwise called Big Brother, characterised by a state-controlled economy with few monopolistic producers and controlled labour. Yet this is not what made Big Brother all-powerful. Two factors did.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Criminalising being poor


Why governance standards set in the West and imposed on poor countries are dangerous

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, a friend posted on a social media platform an article by a US scholar about life in a democracy and an autocracy as imagined by Americans! The author argues that the enjoyment of a fulfilling life is a much more complex matter to be reduced to whether one either lives under a democracy or an autocracy. He also argued that Americans imagine every country that is not a democracy is the worst version of an autocracy or totalitarian state of the Nazi type.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Our nation’s threatened middle


The challenges of being independent in Uganda’s increasingly polarised and toxic debates

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In March of this year, President Yoweri Museveni invited me to speak to National Resistance Movement (NRM) Members of Parliament (MPs) then on a retreat in Kyankwanzi. The day before I could travel there, one of the key organising persons called me. He said many MPs were bitterly protesting that an “enemy” has been invited to speak to them. He advised me to keep away.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The corruption of Uganda football


How the Cranes blundered in Cairo when they went on strike over pay and refused to train

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, the Uganda Cranes players went on strike in Cairo Egypt, where they were competing in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They accused officials of the Federation for Ugandan Football Association (FUFA) of plotting to cheat them of their bonuses for qualifying for the knockout stage of 16. Knowing the corruption that has eaten the entrails of our country’s moral fabric, I could not put FUFA above these accusations. I was therefore among those who tweeted highlighting the concerns of our players.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Uganda’s budget dilemma


How our government’s attempts to do too many things for all citizens spreads our meager resources too thin

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA |  Poor countries suffer a fundamental contradiction in both design and aspiration. The state is designed and thus seeks to perform functions exactly like states in rich countries. Citizens expect and politicians promise to provide free and universal healthcare, primary and in many cases secondary education, clean water, electricity, roads, agricultural extension services etc. These public goods and services are far beyond the classical functions of the state i.e. to provide law and order, infrastructure and the administration of justice.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The tyranny of expert advice


Why Africans need to look beyond the oversimplification of our development challenges

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, a member on a WhatsApp chat-group I belong to posted a video of a Singaporean professor explaining why that country transformed from a third world to a first world economy in a generation. The professor, Kishore Mahbubani, offers to give the “secret formula” behind this phenomenal success. It is an explanation a large section of global and African elites are always keen to embrace. This is driven in large part by belief that there is something wrong with our countries and political leaders.