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, November 3, 2009

Why oil revenues will harm us



Over the last 50 years, public debate in Africa has been fixated on democracy or the lack of it as the primary cause of economic failure. Wars and elections have been fought over it; rebellions launched or quashed in its defence and coups have been carried out in its name. I have grown increasingly suspicious of the argument that it is the absence of democracy that explains corruption and incompetence in Africa.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why oil revenues will harm us


On October 16, 2009, Oxford’s Prof. Paul Collier gave a talk at Serena Hotel in Kampala on the prospects of an oil windfall in Uganda. Unlike in most of his work, this time Collier did not focus on how the international community (read the West) can help Uganda use its oil revenues well; his entire speech, though sounding like a primary school headmaster advising his pupils, was about what we Ugandans should and should not do with our oil revenues. It was vintage Collier ‘ frank, intelligent and insightful See story here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Give Afghan warlords a chance



In October 2001, the United States and its NATO allies invaded Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban, sent Al Qaeda in disarray and established a largely pro-Western government. There was a lot of promise at the time that Afghanistan would become a peaceful, democratic and stable nation within a couple of years.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Uganda’s protests tell us



On March 16, 1989, the ultra modern subway system of South Korea’s capital Seoul came to a standstill. Six thousand workers went on strike; 3,000 of them defiantly occupied the roundhouse from which the locomotives dispatch. The president, Gen. Roh Tae Woo, ordered a crackdown: 6,000 policemen in full riot-gear surrounded the roundhouse arresting 2,300 of the striking workers. Within days, the strike was crushed and the subway resumed its impressive efficiency.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is Uganda’s press freedom a myth?



For a long time now, Ugandans and foreigners have praised the government of President Yoweri Museveni for being ‘tolerant’ of press freedom. I have been inconsistent on this issue. Sometimes I believe we enjoy a relatively good level of media freedom and freedom of expression generally yet at times I feel the creeping hand of fascism. Part of this confusion results from the personalised way in which our country is run ‘ nothing of significance happens without the president’s personal involvement.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Rwanda wins world prizes


On September 9, the Doing Business Report of the World Bank Group ranked Rwanda as the world’s top reformer in creating a business friendly environment. The report also showed that within one year, Rwanda jumped from number 139 to number 67 out of 186 countries sampled – almost jumping 60 positions. No country in the world has ever managed such a feat. Uganda also made a jump but in reverse – from number 111 to 112.
The key areas of reform considered by the report include starting a business, employing workers, getting credit (legal rights), protecting investors, registering property, closing a business and trading across borders.
According to the report, Rwanda is the 5th highest ranking African country after Mauritius (17th), South Africa (34th), Botswana (45th) and Namibia (66th). How has this poor and obscure country beaten Africa’s giants like Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco in being open for business?
The critics of Rwanda’s current leadership must be biting their nails. On April 20, Time magazine nominated President Paul Kagame among the 100 most influential people in the world – alongside Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. Writing the commentary on the nomination was Pastor Rick Warren, the most respected evangelist in America – now an advisor to Kagame.
On July 16, the World Technology Network (WTN) had nominated Kagame as the world’s best policy leader in advancing the use of new technologies. Later, Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria told CNN in an interview that Rwanda is Africa’s most successful nation – when Barak Obama was singing Ghana. Zakaria who also hosts GPS program on CNN is among the most intellectually minded journalists in the world.
This September, I was at the University of Oxford’s Said School of Business in an Africa leadership program. The program brings together 20 Africans in their mid-30s who have made a mark in the corporate world to spend time sharing ideas on leadership on the continent. Throughout our discussions, Kagame was being cited by everyone, fellows and the visiting lecturers alike, as the exemplar of good leadership.
When I attended the Australian business leadership retreat in August 2008, Rwanda was referred to by almost every major speaker. When I went to China for the World Economic Forum meeting in September 2008, the CEO on Intel gave me a ride from my hotel to the conference hall. I told him I was from Uganda but he thought I said Rwanda.
“You have a great president in Rwanda,” he told me, “He is mentioned at every technology conference I attend. Rwanda is too poor and small a country to have such a profile especially in the area of technology. How have you done it?” For a moment, I was tempted to associate myself with success. I decided to be honest. I am from Uganda, I said, Rwanda is our neighbor to the south-west. “That country seems to be going nuts, eh” he said, “And your president doesn’t want to leave power, huh?”
So what product has Rwanda given to the world that everyone is buying into? The answer was given to me by Joe Ritchie. After making hundreds of millions of dollars as a commodities and options trader in Chicago, Ritchie has now settled in Rwanda as advisor to Kagame and CEO of Rwanda Development Board. What would make a successful multi-millionaire leave his exciting business to come live and work in this impoverished nation?
“I have a fund,” Ritchie once told me as we sat down to a cup of coffee, “It is just my own money that I invest in companies on the basis of the character of the CEO, that’s the only thing I look at. I don’t look at what sector they’re in, I don’t look at their sales projections, I don’t look at sales growth, I don’t look at anything except the character of the CEOs. I picked about 60 or 70 companies out of the hundreds and hundreds of them and I bought their stock. This fund outperforms the market regularly.”
What has this got to do with Rwanda’s growing international reputation? Ritchie met Kagame at a dinner organised through a friend. “And in five minutes, I knew there’s not another head of state on the planet like this guy, he’s just unique.” Ritchie has met many world leaders from across all the continents. “I think politicians are all crooks,” he told me, “But this man (Kagame) was clearly different. He is honest, sincere, genuine and straightforward.”
“I realized I can sell this man to the private sector,” Ritchie went on, “I can’t sell him in Washington. Washington doesn’t care if you do right or wrong. In fact they like guys that are on the take, because then they can control them with money. I mean Washington is the biggest payer of bribes on the planet. Generally, they don’t appreciate honest straightforward heads of state, because they can’t control them. But I know that in the private sector there are people that would appreciate it.
“I took a list of the companies whose CEOs care about character,” he continued, “We began introducing Kagame to CEOs on my list of companies and others we knew by reputation were very good guys. Soon we had introduced him to five people that knew President George W. Bush personally. If you know a CEO or someone that’s been very successful and he calls up the White House and says, you know what, there’s a little country called Rwanda, and a guy named Paul Kagame that runs it, and you need to focus on that guy because they are going to go somewhere, you pay attention. And if a second one calls, you say, wow. Well, by the time three or four or five call, it’s all over.”
We are told repeatedly that only one mortal human being has the competences to lead Uganda. If Kagame had remained here, he would still be one of the many people we would be told has no capacity to make a good president. The lesson is that NRM and our country are teaming with many talented people who can make good presidents. Do not stifle them.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Museveni Vs Mengo: who won?



As the confrontation between President Yoweri Museveni and Mengo reached a climax last Friday evening, it was the Buganda establishment that retreated. As the Katikiro announced that Kabaka Ronald Mutebi had cancelled his trip to Kayunga, it was clear that Museveni is the most overestimated man in this country.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NSSF: Govt, stop babysitting us



Almost every two years we are treated to the spectacle of all the ills at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). An inquiry into the Fund has always exposed rot leading to the board and top management getting fired, ministers responsible being reshuffled, sometimes the managing director and the chairman get prosecuted and jailed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Give Darfur war a chance



I have increasingly grown sceptical of international humanitarian intervention. Although largely driven by moral reasons, it has often inflicted more harm than good on its intended beneficiaries. It is with this view that I went for a public lecture by Prof. Mahmood Mamdani at Makerere University on Wednesday August 26.

2011 polls: Is EC playing foul on voter register?



On June 25, fifteen companies submitted bids for a contract with the Electoral Commission (EC) to update the Voter Register. According to the bid documents, each bidder was supposed to submit three envelops: a technical proposal, a financial proposal and a third envelop was supposed to contain information about the bidding company.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why Uganda has no citizens



Last week, I was in Stanbic Bank to pay tuition fees for my niece, Cynthia. My sister Florence died when Cynthia was only seven. Now she is 19, pretty, vibrant, ambitious, intelligent and ready to take on the world and change it. Although she qualified for law, her score was not enough for state sponsorship at Makerere University. Since she has always wanted to be a lawyer, I decided to pay to keep her dream alive.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colonialism reclaiming Africa?



Colonialism is back; bold and unashamed. The West has decided to reclaim leadership in Africa. Only last week, I watched US Secretary of State, Mrs Hillary Clinton, give instructions to Kenyan politicians on how they should manage the affairs of Kenya. She demanded that the democratically elected ruling coalition in Kenya create a tribunal to try the perpetrators of last year’s post election violence. If not, she threatened, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take over.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A tale of two presidents, two nations and two revolutions



For sometime now, my articles comparing Uganda and Rwanda have generated the most intense debate on our website, my private emails and my phone’s SMSs. President Yoweri Museveni’s supporters accuse me of doing PR for President Paul Kagame. Many people ask why I compare the two countries and their leaders and not other African countries. My friends have been asking me to explain. I have yielded grudgingly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why are our politicians corrupt?



In this column last week, I argued that after every successive election in Uganda, the quality of government has tended to deteriorate. Many Ugandans think this is because our nation has a sham democracy. ‘Were we to have genuine democracy,’ my friend Erias Lukwago, MP for Kampala Central, told me, ‘elections would produce better politicians and better government.’ I used to hold this view but I have grown to realise that my programmatic vision tended to blur my analytical eye.

Inside the Umeme power tariff scandal



Did minister Onek touch a live wire?
Sometime early this year, then minister of state for micro finance, Gen. Salim Saleh, went to meet the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakazi. He had a couple of documents with him which, he claimed, showed that there was huge fraud by the electricity distribution company, Umeme.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Our Reply to Obama

On his recent visit to Ghana, U.S. President Barack Obama condemned war, corruption, tribalism, and all the other ills that have bedeviled our continent. Many Africans in Africa and the diaspora were moved by the speech, as were many Africa observers in the West. The speech captivated imaginations because it appealed to people's basic common sense.

That is where its positive contribution ends.

Rather inconveniently, all the attention Obama's speech has gotten disproves his opening remark: "We must start from the simple premise that Africa's future is up to Africans." It is not the speech of an African leader on the future of the continent that is exciting debate in the media and finding space on the blogs; it is a speech by the U.S. president. This very simple contradiction reveals the world's collective tendency to seek Africa's solutions from the West.

Beyond its many good phrases and populist appeals, Obama's speech did not deviate fundamentally from the views of other Western leaders I have read throughout my lifetime -- on aid, on civil wars, on corruption, or on democracy. Obama repackaged the same old views in less diplomatic language. He had the courage to be more explicit on Africa's ills because, due to his African heritage, Obama can say as he wishes without sounding racist -- a fear that constrains other Western leaders when talking about Africa.

Even so, Obama said nothing new. He assumes that African countries have been mismanaged because leaders on the continent are bad men who make cold hearted choices. His solution is thus to extend moral pleas for them to rule better. Yet it is not the individual behavior of Africa's rulers that demands our closest attention, destructive as that behavior may be. It is the structure of incentives those leaders confront -- incentives that help determine the choices they make.

Using this logic, we can start to ask more-useful questions. If the choices made by Africa's rulers have destroyed their economies, under what conditions can they develop a vested interest in growth-promoting policies? If Africans are going to war much more often than other human beings on the planet, what causes them to do so? When is peace more attractive than military combat?

Governing is not about making simplistic choices on who is right and who is wrong. It requires making complicated trade-offs, some of which might be costly in the short term. Take negotiated conflict settlements, for example, a policy that has stabilized Liberia and Sierra Leone after the two countries' brutal civil wars. That same policy wouldn't have worked in 1994 in Rwanda, where it would have produced an unstable power-sharing arrangement between victims of genocide and their executioners. The lesson: We cannot have one blueprint for all of Africa's problems. Even "good" moral decisions, such as those so often urged upon us by the West, can be bad sometimes.

Obama assumes that the fundamental challenge facing Africa is the lack of democracy and the checks and balances that come with it. But how does he explain why authoritarian Rwanda fights corruption and delivers public services to its citizens much better than its democratic neighbor, Uganda? In fact, the Ugandan brand of democracy has spawned corruption and incompetence more than it has helped combat them. The country's ethnic politics makes patronage and corruption more electorally profitable than delivering services.

Obama's preferred models of successful development, Singapore and South Korea, were not democratic when they rose to prominence. His proposals on ending corruption -- "forensic accounting, automating services strengthening hot lines and protecting whistle-blowers" -- are technocratic in nature. But the real challenge is how to give Africa's rulers a vested interest in fighting corruption. In most of Africa today, corruption is the way the system works -- not the way it fails.

The lesson for Obama is that Africa is likely to get better with less meddling in its affairs by the West, not more -- whether that meddling is through aid, peacekeeping, or well-written speeches. Africa needs space to make mistakes and learn from them. The solutions for Africa have to be shaped and articulated by Africans, not outsiders. Obama needs to listen to Africans much more, not lecture them using the same old teleprompter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How elections can undermine democracy


                                                            
It is difficult to conduct a debate on anything in Africa whose premise is the reality on the ground. Most debate ‘ whether on public policies or political institutions, on democracy or accountability ‘ uses as its reference point, the experience of the Western world. Take the example of electoral competition. It seems to me that the peculiar way in which it is evolving in Uganda (and many African countries) undermines checks and balances, accountability and public service delivery.

How elections can undermine democracy



It is difficult to conduct a debate on anything in Africa whose premise is the reality on the ground. Most debate ‘ whether on public policies or political institutions, on democracy or accountability ‘ uses as its reference point, the experience of the Western world. Take the example of electoral competition. It seems to me that the peculiar way in which it is evolving in Uganda (and many African countries) undermines checks and balances, accountability and public service delivery.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Obama is not our saviour



When you are poor, every Tom, Dick and Harry steps over your nose. This was the impression I got when I read the lecture (as opposed to a speech) by US President Barack Obama in Ghana. The uncritical enthusiasm with which some elites in Africa received it was disappointing. Obama spoke like a primordial father to his children: ‘We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans.’

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jackson triumphed over media



Finally, the dust has settled over the death and burial of Michael Jackson. Throughout his career, Jackson fought two battles; one with himself, the other with general societal norms. The battle within himself was an attempt to discover the childhood denied to him by his father’s ruthless ambition combined with his becoming a celebrity at a tender age. It led him to persistent attempts to live his childhood as an adult by having an obsessive love for the company of young children.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Education reforms Uganda needs



In the 1997/98 budget, government allocated Shs 200 billion to education; in the 2009/10 budget, Shs 1.1 trillion. Although the budget for education has grown fivefold in twelve years, there is little (save for a spike in student enrolment and new buildings) to show for it. Performance in public schools has been stagnant at best and declining in most cases. Government has achieved ‘allocative efficiency’ but has failed ‘implementation efficiency’.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Iran reporting a travesty of journalism



For three weeks now, Western media have covered the elections and resultant demonstration in Iran with unparalleled zeal. But the reporting has been a one sided affair without even the slightest attempt to show balance. The partisan way they have covered the opposition to the complete exclusion of the government side is a travesty of journalism.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How to remove hyenas from the meat market



Writing about the 2009/10 budget in this column last week, I argued that Uganda has achieved allocative efficiency without realising technical efficiency. The result: Although large sums of the budget are allocated to priority sectors like health, education, infrastructure and energy, these funds are diverted by civil servants to private pockets.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2009/10 budget good but will it deliver?



The 2009/10 budget in Uganda once again presents the puzzle to many analysts of our nation. In spite of a world-wide recession (advanced economies declined by 7.5% in the last quarter of 2008), Uganda’s economy grew by 7%, an impressive performance by any standard. Indeed, growth in absolute tax revenues was 17% above 2007/08 even though it will be about Shs 150 billion below the projected amount.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why Kagame succeeds where others fail



Three weeks before the 2003 presidential elections in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame received a report from the Auditor General; 36 mayors (heads of districts) had misappropriated public funds. He ordered their arrest. But just before the police could apprehend them, senior Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) officials went to see the president.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The hope and tragedy of Uganda



An insightful visitor to Uganda today would confront a puzzle: there is a lot of activity in our country. The government has many programmes to develop the country and improve the living conditions of its people. There is Prosperity For All and the president moves around the country dishing out cash to selected individuals and groups.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Can’t have democracy without citizens


Last week, President Yoweri Museveni was campaigning for Peter Sematimba as chairman for Rubaga Division. The president told the electorate there that they lack public services like roads, hospitals and sewerage systems because they have been sending him ‘the wrong people’ through elections, i.e. have been voting for the opposition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will Zuma follow Mugabe or Mandela?



The election of Jacob Zuma as President of Africa’s richest and most sophisticated country, South Africa, once again manifests the pitfalls of democracy in Africa. Zuma was on trial for rape (but was acquitted) and corruption (charges of which still remain). If he was a candidate in Western democracies, it would have been extremely difficult for him to get a party nomination. Why then did South Africans embrace him in spite of ‘ or could it be because of ‘ his apparent poor moral standing?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dictatorships don’t serve the people; they give privileges to their cronies

Dear Colin, I read your letter regarding my views on the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, with interest and disappointment. Although you raise some legitimate issues, I was disappointed by its innuendoes and insinuations where you accuse me of being “journalist of fortune” and of ‘selling my soul’ ‘ something uncharacteristic of you. However, I will not stoop that low to trade false accusations but instead address the otherwise legitimate issues you raised.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Uganda’s democracy fails



Why, given the apparent democratic space in Uganda compared to Rwanda, is the delivery of public goods and services in our country so poor compared to our southern neighbour? Colin Barigye, in last week’s issue argued that such services are easy to deliver under a dictatorship because ‘autocrats make things happen because they work through unilateral decrees and autocratic directives.’

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who is sacrificing for Uganda?



Sometime in the middle of April, I spent three days with my colleague at office, Melina Platas, ‘working’ at Mulago Hospital.
We saw patients lying on rotten mattresses, on broken beds (for the lucky ones) while many were on the floor in overcrowded wards and in the corridors with no medical attention at all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Can Museveni’s promises be trusted?

1.       Address to the students at Makerere University, June 8th 1991
‘Coming to your problems, I would like to touch on your problem of electricity load shading ‘ a situation in which you have electricity for some hours after which it is taken to another place. These are the cumulative effects of what we have been going through. Our small power station at Jinja was capable of generating 150 megawatts when it was built in 1954 and when the population of Uganda was four and a half million people. By the time we came to government in 1986, its capacity had declined to 120 megawatts and the population of Uganda is now 17 million.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lesson for Uganda from the international financial crisis



The current financial crisis in the West has exposed many myths that have informed Uganda’s banking policies over the last decade. One such myth was that international banks are well managed; that they cannot suffer a meltdown. This myth has made the governor of Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, resist increasing local ownership of banks arguing that it would put the financial sector in jeopardy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why Faith Mwondha should go



In 2002, Kampala City Council (KCC) condemned the houses comprising what is known as the Nakawa and Naguru Housing Estate. The estate ‘ largely made up of poorly constructed small houses ‘ is a relic of racial discrimination under British colonial rule. Like Soweto in South Africa, it was developed as a ghetto for indigenous Ugandans to supply cheap labour to the European quarters in Kololo and Nakasero. Old and dilapidated today, it is an eye-sour to Kampala but equally a bitter reminder of our ugly past.

Friday, April 3, 2009

To check graft, focus on results



Many people believe the existence of multiple institutions for accountability in public procurement provide checks and balances on the process. This belief is born of the efficacy of such checks and balances in Western democracies rather than an objective study of how they work in a poor and polarised society like Uganda. Many Ugandans think Western systems of accountability can be introduced here and they perform as they do in rich nations. This copy and paste approach makes a bad situation worse.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Why red tape increases graft



President Yoweri Museveni claims he appointed his wife as state minister for Karamoja because ‘elites’ were rejecting the job (never mind only one person, Tom Butiime, turned it down). He also justified the appointment of his family members, e.g. his brother, Salim Saleh, to government positions as a sign of sacrifice, not privilege.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The trouble with Uganda’s democracy

Finally, we are coming to the coronation of Yoweri Museveni as a presidential monarch. First, it was amendment of the constitution to remove term limits on the presidency so that he can run for president in perpetuity.  It turns out that is not enough to ensure his job security. So now the NRM plans to amend the constitution so that the president is elected by parliament as was the case in 1980 (and in South Africa today) rather than by universal adult suffrage. Also, the NRM wants to amend the constitution to remove the age limit on a person running for president ‘ currently 75 years ‘ in time to allow Museveni continue in office when he hits that ceiling.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You want freedom? It is expensive



Last week, The Independent published a list of the relatives and in laws of President Yoweri Museveni that have been politically appointed into senior positions in government. We also did an analysis of why the president has sought a strategy of family rule and its likely consequences on the nation’s future.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Farewell Republic of Uganda, welcome Rwakitura kingdom



And so, we have finally neared the summit of our journey from the Republic of Uganda to the Kingdom of Rwakitura under the Kaguta dynasty. 

The crowning moment of this journey was two weeks ago when President Yoweri Museveni appointed his wife, Mrs Janet Museveni, to cabinet. That there has not been a major outcry in the country against this increasing and narrowing patrimony is a sign of how deeply people’s expectations of the president have sunk. Short of walking nude on the streets of Kampala, there is really nothing that Museveni can do that can shock anyone anymore. Whenever I think he has reached the rock-bottom of moral and political depravity, Museveni somehow still finds a new depth to fall into.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why Museveni pretends and Kagame acts



Two years ago, the German construction company Strabag won a tender to build a 70km tarmac road from Kigali to Bugesera in Rwanda. The company delivered a high-quality tarmac road with proper drainage and pavements for pedestrians ‘ a testament to the efficiency and effectiveness of the post genocide state in Rwanda.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Uganda’s opposition must speak to our aspirations



I pick up where I left off last week: the tragic collapse in the quality of government in Uganda has gone hand-in-hand with corruption on a scale never previously witnessed. Roads are full of potholes, schools are burning, hospitals are death traps and public parks are overgrown bushes. Public institutions no longer embody a national vision. Instead, they reinforce the pattern of private advantage that benefits a few at the expense of the many.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Museveni walking same path of African dictators



Twenty three years since he came to power, President Yoweri Museveni shows no plans of leaving. We should not be surprised by this because Museveni is walking the long-trodden path of other African dictators of old like Marshal Mobutu of Zaire, Paul Biya of Cameroon, Omar Bongo of Gabon, Gnassingb Eyadma, of Togo and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Whatever motivates him to keep tightening his grip around the nations choking throat will continue to be a subject of intense debate and speculation. What is clear, however, is that under his rule (or is it misrule?) Uganda has witnessed a tragic collapse in the quality of government.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To check graft, focus on results



I argued in this column last week that multiple checks and balances in public procurement in a country like Uganda tend to accentuate rather than control corruption. This is because multiple centres of control in a neo-patrimonial system do not create checks and balances as would happen in Sweden. Instead, you create multiple bribe-collection centres. Such uncoordinated centres make corruption expensive and therefore discourage investment. That is why a centralised corrupt Mafioso like that of Gen. Suharto in Indonesia tended not to undermine development like did the decentralized dictatorship of Marshal Mobutu in Zaire.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When checks on graft increase it



Many people believe the existence of multiple institutions for accountability in public procurement provide checks and balances on the process. This belief is born of the efficacy of such checks and balances in Western democracies rather than an objective study of how they work in a poor and polarised society like Uganda. Many Ugandans think Western systems of accountability can be introduced here and they perform as they do in rich nations. This copy and paste approach makes a bad situation worse.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NRM at 23: From hope to despair



Next week, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) will celebrate 23 years in government. The NRM revolution was born in a moment of great hope. It is difficult for me to capture the emotional tone of that moment. But there was great hope in most of this country on that 26th day of January 1986. That hope was captured in a promise made by incoming President Yoweri Museveni that this is not a mere change of guards but a fundamental change in the politics of our country.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When best option is to ignore rules



A common joke about our roads in Uganda goes like this: If you see someone driving zigzag, then you know he is sober; and if you see someone driving straight, they must be drunk. Why is the logic of driving inverted? Because we have too many potholes on our roads, you drive zigzag to avoid them. But a person high on alcohol would not recognise this problem.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Uganda should have right to invade neighbour DR Congo



The recent Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) attack on the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was certainly the right thing to do, although the assault itself was ill-timed, poorly planned and incompetently executed. Before the assault, the Uganda government sought and obtained a no-objection from the DRC government to enter their territory and attack LRA camps.

Uganda should have right to invade neighbour DR Congo



The recent Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) attack on the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was certainly the right thing to do, although the assault itself was ill-timed, poorly planned and incompetently executed. Before the assault, the Uganda government sought and obtained a no-objection from the DRC government to enter their territory and attack LRA camps.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Workers savings in NSSF are best served through housing

One of the key issues of 2008 was the price at which the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) bought land belonging to security minister, Amama Mbabazi. I strongly believe it was a good price. Many believe it was a rip-off. If i am right, workers should be happy although they ought to be morally outraged at how political influence was peddled to get their money out of the Fund to buy a ministers land. If the price was inflated, they should be extremely angry and call for action.

Workers savings in NSSF are best served through housing



One of the key issues of 2008 was the price at which the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) bought land belonging to security minister, Amama Mbabazi. I strongly believe it was a good price. Many believe it was a rip-off. If i am right, workers should be happy although they ought to be morally outraged at how political influence was peddled to get their money out of the Fund to buy a ministers land. If the price was inflated, they should be extremely angry and call for action.