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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The myth of Congolese wealth

The arguments that Rwanda is in Congo to exploit that country's mineral wealth are misinformed

Since the current crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo flared up, most international media coverage has focused on Rwanda’s alleged support for M23, one of over 40 rebel groups fighting Kinshasa. Eastern Congo is mineral rich. So, in almost every story is the claim that Kigali supports the rebellion because it wants to occupy Congo and exploit its mineral wealth. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Uganda’s culture of impunity

How the NRM has created an unstable equilibrium in Uganda’s politics that has allowed impunity to be tolerated
In 399 BC, the popular assembly in Athens sentenced the world’s most famous philosopher, Socrates, to death. His most famous student and spokesman, Plato, was advised by friends to leave the city. He had participated in the defense of Socrates and many feared the democratic party of Athens would kill him too. At 28, Plato escaped to Egypt. There, he was surprised when – what the historian Will Durant called “the Sphinxly pundits of the Nile” – told him that the upheavals of Greece were because Athens was a young and immature nation without entrenched norms and stabilising traditions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Who benefits from aid to Rwanda?

Recently, the Daily Telegraph published a story quoting David Himbara saying that aid to Rwanda goes to Kagame. Really?

A visitor driving from Kanombe airport to downtown Kigali would be struck by the way post genocide Rwanda is shaping herself. The road is smooth to a fault – like in Dubai. The pedestrian sidewalks on either side are better than what you see in London or New York. The palmtrees that line the boulevards are as neat as those of Singapore or Paris. The public gardens – with their neatly mowed lawns and carefully manicured flowers – rival those in Brussels.

Uganda’s political masturbation

The death of Nabenda and the attention it has attracted shows how distant from real issues our political discourse has gotten

The death of the Woman Member of Parliament for Butaleja District, Cerinah Arioru Nebanda and the resultant hullabaloo around it reflects the crisis of the political class in Uganda.

It confirms Prof. Mahmood Mamdani’s assertion that every form of rule shapes the form of resistance to it. The NRM has ruled Uganda largely through corruption, lies, subterfuge, false accusations and manipulation. Those who seek to remove him from power employ the same tricks. Yet a meaningful struggle against the ills of a deeply entrenched corrupt system like that of the NRM has to be – first and foremost – a struggle over values. Without a framework of the values around which resistance is organised, we run the risk of removing Mobutu but not Mobutuism.

Chris Mubiru’s inadvertent gay allies

The more the Red Pepper publishes his pornographic pictures, the more it brings gay sex out of the closet
Since Chris Mubiru became a mega celebrity in Uganda, the pro-gay rights lobby has withdrawn into resigned silence – sensing a reversal of “the cause”. Two current members of parliament and a former one who had written articles opposing the hang-the-gays bill for The Independent withdrew them before we went to press. They claimed the atmosphere was too charged and they “did not want to be misunderstood”. It is funny how fear of being “misunderstood” i.e. moral cowardice, governs our lives. At a point when people need to stand up in defense of their beliefs and values, they bulk.

The complexity of Uganda’s graft

The war on corruption is first and foremost a war over values and these have to be embedded in society first
Let me finish the argument on corruption I left hanging last week: that actually, a war on corruption is as much a war of values supplied from above (leadership) as it is a struggle for accountability demanded from below (by citizens). We have ignored the first part – the values part – and put too much emphasis on politics – the will to crack down on thieves.