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, June 27, 2016

Against public education, health

Why obsession with investment in mass public education and health in poor countries could be less optimal policy

Let me articulate a heresy. I am increasingly suspicious of the obsession by governments in poor countries to invest in “education and healthcare for all” as a strategy to combat poverty. This is not to say health and education do not matter in reducing poverty or its effects. There are economic benefits and welfare dividends that come from a healthy and educated citizenry. But these benefits can be realised without the state being a provider or even financier (as I used to argue) of such services. These can, and should, be funded by families, religious institutions and other charitable bodies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Beyond national politics, policies

Why good leadership at a national level is not enough to make a country successful economically

Let us do a thought experiment. It is often said that the problem of Africa is poor leadership: if our continent had leaders dedicated to serving their people rather than lining their pockets, then our problems of poverty, conflict, misery etc. would end. Even the god of African elites, Barak Obama, made this claim in Addis Ababa when he last visited our continent. This slogan has been repeated so many times that it has acquired the status of divine truth.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Peep into Kadaga’s experience

What the uproar about her visit to a shrine tells us about the crisis of post-colonial Africa

Rebecca Kadaga caused uproar when she visited a traditional shrine to thank the spirits of her ancestors for her election as Speaker of Parliament. Every pundit of any heft was in the mass media denouncing her for indulging in “devil worship”. The uproar only reaffirmed the tight hold colonialism has on our minds. Assuming Kadaga had gone to church for a thanksgiving service to honor Jesus Christ for her election, who would have complained?

Monday, June 6, 2016

The shutdown of Entebbe Road

The triumph of security over politics in Museveni’s quest to contain Besigye’s defiance

From Saturday, May 28 to June 03, Uganda has been a host of two visiting dignitaries – Presidents Park Geun-hye of South Korea and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. For most of the entire week, the road to Entebbe International Airport has been literally closed to over 254,000 people who use it daily. Motorists were forced to use bad dirty roads. Consequently, tens of thousands of motorists were stuck in traffic or mud in these narrow roads causing airlines to fly back almost empty.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Why Museveni should retire

In leaving power the president would cause Ugandans to re-evaluate his legacy with better perspective

There is one thing I wish to request: That President Museveni and NRM should not amend the constitution to remove the age limit on the presidency so that he can run in 2021. There is also one
thing we are likely to see: the NRM-dominated parliament will most probably amend the constitution and remove the age limit so that Museveni can run in 2021. It matters less what Museveni’s initial personal attitude towards this is. The way electoral politics has evolved in Uganda makes the amendment inevitable.

Monday, May 23, 2016

What makes Rwanda different?

The drivers of cleanliness, order, and the brand of dignity Rwandans are building

In mid-May we were in Kigali, Rwanda, attending the World Economic Forum meetings. Across most of Kigali, there was something that has become a signature of everything in this country – order. The streets were clean to a fault, the city lawns were properly mowed, the flowers neatly pruned and the gardens around them carefully designed and tended to, the public garbage cans look better than anything I have seen in Paris or London, the traffic lights count time by the second and at night the street lights turn night into day. Everywhere people were walking – no dust or mud or open manholes that litter cities in many poor countries. Kigali has public parks that rival anything you have seen in Paris and the drainage system works.

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.”