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, November 1, 2021

On Museveni and his critics

What we always miss about the governance strategies employed by leaders of poor countries

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M Mwenda | Last Sunday, a high school alumni found me at a cafe in town and with a sardonic smile gave me an unwelcome compliment. “Andrew,” he said as he bit his lip, “you are a very clever man. You know how to use your vast knowledge and intelligence to defend the indefensible. I must give you credit because you do it well. The problem, however, is that you use your knowledge and intelligence in service of African dictators for money. And that is the problem of Africa. Its brightest do not think about the country but themselves; so, you are the typical dishonest African intellectual – making yourself rich at the expense of your country.”

Monday, October 25, 2021

What is Africa’s problem?

Revisiting Museveni’s ideas about Uganda and our wider continent after his 35 years (and counting) in power

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | And so it was that recently, while perusing my library, I decided to reread President Yoweri Museveni’s book, What is Africa’s Problem. It is a collection of his writings and speeches when he was still young and idealistic. Nearly 30 years since it was published, the book shows that Museveni’s opponents, like the president himself, suffer from a gross misdiagnosis of Africa’s developmental challenge. The overriding theme of the book is that the main cause of “failure” (whatever that means) in postcolonial Africa can be reduced to one word: leadership.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Inside Besigye’s pipedream

Why Besigye’s struggles are not about democratising Uganda but about making Besigye president

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Opposition leader and activist, Dr Kizza Besigye, has launched a new pressure group, the People’s Front for Transition (PFT). Besigye said the strategic objective of the pressure group is to remove President Yoweri Museveni from power. There is a fundamental problem with Besigye’s view of Uganda and explains his failure to lead his followers to any meaningful outcome. He has defined the problem of Uganda as Museveni, and the solution the removal of the president. Removing Museveni has thus ceased to be a means to an end and has become the end itself.

Monday, October 11, 2021

No one size fits all

How Dubai, a city state ruled by an absolute monarch, challenges Western notions of rationalism and individual autonomy

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | I spent the whole of this week in Dubai, the second richest emirate of the United Arab Emirates. It is a city-state that both impresses and intrigues. It lacks all the elements of what we know to be “good governance.” Yet it has been extraordinarily successful in economic transformation and at political stability. This article is therefore a conversation with my friends in the Western intellectual tradition who believe that there is only one route to a good life – liberal democracy and its accompanying regime of rights, other elements of which I will elaborate later.

Monday, October 4, 2021

The triumph of security agencies

How NRM and the ministry of foreign affairs have surrendered their political and diplomatic functions to intelligence agencies

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Uganda government is at war on many fronts. It has locked horns with Western governments and their domestic institutional agents – Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) which they miscall “civil society”. In prosecution of this war, it has closed many of these NGOs, frozen their accounts and deported their staff.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Museveni’s Covid paranoia

Why Uganda and other African countries have consistently taken extreme and inappropriate Covid interventions

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week, President Yoweri Museveni addressed the nation on Covid-19. With infection and death rates down, the President did little to open up the country. Most especially; he left schools closed and curfew of 7pm in force. Yet he opened churches and mosques, and markets have been open all this time.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Is Uganda’s economy failing?

Why Ugandan pundits are mistaken in their understanding of why some foreign firms have quit our market

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | A couple of multinational firms have pulled out of Uganda in the last one decade. Oil giant Shell sold itself to Vivo, Barclays Bank to Absa while Kenyan supermarket giants Uchumi and Namukatt went under. Recently, Africell followed by South African supermarket chains Game and Shoprite also decided to exit. Consequently, Ugandan pundits have been trying to explain this development.