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, February 3, 2020

Why economic growth matters

Evidence of how GDP growth has led to improved wellbeing of the majority of Ugandans

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Critics have been accusing me of being simplistic by focusing on economic growth as a major success of President Yoweri Museveni’s administration. Uganda has sustained an average annual rate of growth of nearly 7% over the last 34 years. Some argue that the country could have done better by comparing us to China, which had a growth marathon of over 10% per year between 1978 and 2008. Yet China is different from Uganda; especially when we look at factors that drive rapid growth such as a shared national consciousness (leading to high levels of trust), the existence of a strong state, high levels of human capital, diffusion of technology, and access to the sea and proximity to large markets.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Inside Museveni’s 34 years

The pros and cons of the President’s long rule and what they portend for the country he has rebuilt

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week, President Yoweri Museveni and his NRM celebrate 34 years in power. Museveni inherited a country whose state had disintegrated and economy collapsed. The country had been plagued by political instability manifest in military coups and civil wars. In the seven years between the overthrow of Idi Amin in April 1979 and Museveni’s take over in January 1986, Uganda had seven presidents, an average of one president per year. Uganda was so ungovernable the legendary Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore once said it could not recover even in 100 years.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Museveni opens a Pandora’s box

How the president’s intervention to halt the procurement of Kampala-Jinja expressway is a disaster

THE LAST WORD |  Andrew M. Mwenda |  Last week, I had a meeting in Mukono, a town only 20km east of Kampala. The meeting was scheduled for 2pm. Knowing the heavy traffic on Jinja Road, where Mukono is located, I left Kampala City Center at 1pm. This gave me one hour to navigate the traffic jam. Jinja Road is a major artery connecting our landlocked country to the sea. It is congested with long queues of trailers that make traffic jams on that road a nightmare. But Wednesday last week was record breaking. I got to Mukono at 4pm.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Kampala grinding to a halt

How NRM politics have made Kampala a dysfunctional city and what cannot be done about it

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | As we enter 2020, Kampala has become a dysfunctional city. The heavy rains of 2019 have left most of the roads in a horrible state of disrepair. Most streets are filled with potholes, some even with craters. Motorists have to drive at the slowest speed. This makes cars pile behind each other leading to chronic traffic jams that have made movement around the city a nightmare. The only roads that have not been destroyed by the rains are those built under the leadership of Jennifer Musisi. This is not to blame the old Kampala City Council (KCC), which was led and dominated by the opposition Democratic Party (DP). True it was filled with gross corrupt and incompetent. But equally, it was grossly underfunded.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Corruption and poverty

Why our obsession with corruption as a cause of our poverty is too much ado over little or nothing

THE LAST WORD |  Andrew M. Mwenda |  Cognitive scientists argue that human beings are [inherently] cognitive misers i.e. we prefer to do as little thinking as possible. So when we confront a challenge, our instinct is NOT to look for facts to help us understand it. Rather we lean on our biases, prejudices, values and beliefs to make judgment. Evolutionary psychology explains why it is not profitable for us to stretch our minds to acquire a large body of knowledge. Evolution is driven largely by reproduction. The command of a large body of facts did not give our ancestors a competitive advantage in the dating market. The most competitive qualities in mate selection are power, wealth, generosity, kindness, caring, good looks, good health and such artistic qualities as music, art, athletics etc.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Atubo’s disappointing lamentations

Why African elites are deluded to think the “international community” has our best interests at heart

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |  Last week, I read with sadness, disappointment, disillusionment and frustration an article in Daily Monitor by former minister Omara Atubo. He was explaining why he signed a petition to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict President Yoweri Museveni. I have known Atubo for decades and have always held him in high esteem as among the most thoughtful politicians in Uganda. His article is widely quoted below to provide perspective.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Besigye’s political honesty

How the leading opposition figure hit the nail on the head when talking about money and politics

THE LAST WORD | By Andrew M. Mwenda | Last week, I attended the launch of an autobiography by former cabinet minister, Mathew Rukikaire: 70 Years a Witness. In attendance was Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leading pillar of the opposition in Uganda and four times presidential candidate against President Yoweri Museveni. In his speech, Besigye said UPM polled badly in the 1980 elections because its candidates had no money. Besigye said Rukikaire got the highest number of votes of all UPM candidates in 1980, even polling higher than party president, Museveni, because he (Rukikaire) was rich.