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



Friday, December 23, 2016

Uganda’s war on corruption



Why do many people believe corruption is out of control despite many prosecutions?

In October, the Anticorruption Court convicted the main culprits in the theft of pension money. The three men were top officials of the ministry of public service; including the permanent secretary and the principle accountants. The story made headlines for two days and died away. Indeed, every day, there is news of public officials in Uganda being arrested, charged, and prosecuted or being convicted of corruption. But they don’t make big news. Yet the media – both traditional and social media – get obsessed with considerably minor stories and cover them for weeks on end.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Lessons for FDC from Gambia


Accusations based on Jammeh’s personality shouldn’t obscure the politics

On December 01 the President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, lost an election and went on television and conceded defeat. He also called the victor, Adama Barrow, and congratulated him saying he has no ill will and will be pleased to help him in any way. Having taken power by a military coup and ruled that tiny West African nation for 22 years, no one expected Jammeh to concede gracefully.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Makerere University in the age of emotion and blackmail


It is now more than a month since President Yoweri Museveni shut down Makerere University in Kampala. The closure was over academic staff abandoning teaching and giving the government an ultimatum: Pay us our unpaid arrears or we will not return to work.

The academic staff members are not striking over salaries – which they had been paid in full. Instead, their strike was over some strange thing called “incentives”; amalgamated allowances for extra work like teaching in the evening or on weekends or having a very large class with many student scripts to mark.

Monday, December 5, 2016

From Obote’s 1966 to Museveni’s 2016



How 50 years have not changed the nature of the confrontation between the central government, traditional authorities

Exactly 50 years since Prime Minister Milton Obote attacked the palace of Sir Edward Mutesa, the King of Buganda, President Yoweri Museveni has attacked the palace of the king of Rwenzururu, Wesley Mumbere. In typical political style, opposition leader Kizza Besigye tweeted his horror at both the attack on the palace and the people killed. I am sure Besigye and many of his supporters think if they were in power they would have handled the situation differently.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Healthcare in poor countries



Why nations that are different exhibit similar health service dysfunctions

I have been rereading Melle Leenstra’s 2012 book, `Beyond the Façade; the instrumentalisation of the Zambian health sector’. It offers an interesting insight into the challenges that central African nation faces in its attempts to provide quality healthcare to its citizens. It reads like a story of the healthcare system in Uganda or any other poor country. Let us cite the book at some length.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Museveni’s work in Luwero



Why efforts to make peasant farmers go commercial are unlikely to yield success

President Yoweri Museveni spent a week in Luwero District on Operation Wealth Creation. The president was teaching farmers to adopt modern farming techniques in order to increase their output and become commercial farmers. The actions of the president may have excited the affection of local people there but it was heavily derided on social media, today the most powerful medium of communication that has overtaken traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television. It seems everything Museveni does these days only attracts criticism from our elite.

US chicken come home to roost



How Trump won not because he violated American values but because he upheld American vices

This week, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to win the US presidency. This is especially intriguing because Trump had been vilified by America’s powerful weapons of mass propaganda; the gigantic corporate owned and controlled media. Every pundit, journalist, academic and politician of any heft came out to denounce him including fellow Republican Party heavyweights. Trump just didn’t care: he belittled his Republican critics, insulted the journalists, denigrated women and threatened ethnic minorities. The elite accused him of “violating” every code of “American values.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Rethinking the banking industry



Lesson for Central Bank from the experience of the takeover of Crane Bank

This week, the government injected Shs 200 billion into Crane Bank to bolster its liquidity position. This is only 40% of the Shs 500 billion needed to bring the bank into a healthy liquidity position. Yet, even if an extra Shs 300 billion is pumped into the bank, it is unlikely to be enough to ensure its turnaround. This situation could have been avoided had Bank of Uganda (BoU) exercised its powers with foresight.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bringing the state back in

Lessons for Uganda from the failure of Crane Bank and what should be done going forward

Last week’s central bank takeover of Uganda’s third largest bank, Crane Bank, was another step in our nation’s march to the absolute mastery of our economy by international capital. Crane follows a long list of locally owned banks that have gone under or been swallowed by others over the last 20 years, beginning with the International Credit Bank, then Greenland Bank, the Cooperative Bank, Uganda Commercial Bank and recently National Bank of Commerce.

Monday, October 24, 2016

France’s war against Rwanda



What the war between Paris and Kigali over Habyarimana’s death tells us about the two nations

Once again France and Rwanda are locking horns over who killed that nation’s former genocidal president, Juvenal Habyarimana. I have followed this debate for 15 years and every time it rears its ugly head I am intrigued by French arrogance in expressing power over a small, poor country. I am also comforted by Rwanda’s sense of its honour and dignity in the face of extreme provocation by a superpower. This shows that France has so much power but very little leadership.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Uganda’s stalled transformation



 Why Museveni has not transformed agricultural Uganda into an industrial economy and what can be done

President Yoweri Museveni’s stated objective is to transform Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial nation. He has been in power for 30 years, the period South Korea took to achieve that goal. Yet 80% of Ugandans still depend on agriculture for a livelihood; 68% as subsistence farmers. It seems realistic to blame Museveni for this as I used to do when I was still young and intelligent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Africa and the myths of FDI



Why foreign direct investment is overrated and why Africa needs to cultivate local businesses

There is a fad in Africa. It is called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Across our vast continent, foreign investors are the most treasured visitors. Practically every country is obsessed with attracting them, often ignoring local investors. An African president will readily give audience to foreign investors where local investors take months or years to see him. FDI easily negotiates generous tax exemptions, government subsidies, etc. which local investors rarely get. And it gets other generous terms such as the right to 100% ownership of the enterprise and 100% profit repatriation.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Besigye’s coalition of the intolerant



While NRM is a corrupt government, FDC has evolved into an extremist antidemocratic party

Most commentary on politics in Africa tends to revolve around the analysis of the actions and motivations of incumbents in power. A narrative has consolidated: those in power in Africa seek power for selfish motives. Public service is never a part of their calculus. This is not an entirely wrong analysis. But it is an overly simplistic one. Public and private interests are not always mutually exclusive. The pursuit of private interests often forces politicians to articulate public objectives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reality behind `greed’ of MPs



Why criticising MPs for demanding more benefits is misguided and what can be done about it
Our MPs want Shs200 million each to buy cars. They want their wages and allowances increased. They also want Shs68 million spent on their funeral when they die. The public is angry. What more evidence does one need to confirm that our MPs are indeed greedy?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rethinking infrastructure contracts



Why East African governments need to involve local firms in big infrastructure projects
 
The East African nations of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda are involved in massive investments in infrastructure. They are contracting companies to build roads, railways, bridges, airports, seaports, dams, electricity lines, oil pipelines, refineries, water systems, etc. Between 2010 and 2020, the value of these contracts exceeds $100 billion in nominal dollars. Our nations have never seen anything like this before. Given that the combined nominal GDP of these countries is $145 billion, this is big business.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The dilemma Africa faces



The postcolonial state needs to transform not replicate existing social arrangements

Lately, I have been thinking about the postcolonial state inAfrica, and this column reflects these growing thoughts. Why do our states and their political leaders fail to do the things we expect of them? We need to stop regurgitating wornout statements that the state inAfrica is dysfunctional and its leaders are greedy and selfish. Africa has witnessed 278 changes of governments and their leaders over the last 50 years without any fundamental change in the governance strategies by successor governments and leaders – perhaps with the sole exception of post-genocide Rwanda. It would be more profitable to examine the structural circumstances that make these governance strategies obdurate.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Crisis of Africa’s postcolonial state



Danger of expecting leaders of poor African countries to govern like the rich

Imagine a romantic relationship between a poor young guy and a demanding girlfriend. They live in a community with former school and classmates all of whom are rich kids living in posh neighborhoods, driving fancy cars, wearing designer clothes, taking holidays in the Bahamas, dining at exclusive restaurants and buying expensive gifts for their girlfriends. The poor guy finds himself under peer pressure to live like the rich colleagues; and his girlfriend desires and demands that they keep up to the standards.

Monday, August 29, 2016

America’s harmful threats



Why U.S. resistance to the proposed ban on second hand clothes is a danger to our future prosperity

On August 17, Daily Monitor published an article titled “US envoy warns on ban of second hand clothes.”  The U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, made the warning during a “courtesy call” on our Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga. Malac warned that a ban on second hand clothes would jeopardise Uganda’s benefits from AGOA. Never mind that this decision was adopted by regional heads of state as part of the East African Industrialisation Policy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Inside the war against Kayihura



How the opposition has been joined by elements inside government to fight the IGP and the risks it poses
 
Over the last few weeks, the police and its Inspector General Kale Kayihura have been in the eye of the storm. The opposition see Kayihura, and correctly so, as the biggest stumbling block in their pursuit of power. He has tenaciously blocked their rallies and riots. So they want him removed. They have successfully used social media to demonise him.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Weapons of the poor



How per capita revenues and per capita spending influence governance strategies of nations

How do you govern a country that has average public spending per capita of $450 annually in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)? Is it possible to govern it using the same strategies as a country whose public spending is $22,000 per person annually? Yet all debate on governance today assumes exactly that. I have grown suspicious of this belief in large part because when one studies the governance strategies of today’s rich nations when they had the same per capita spending as today’s poor countries they look quite similar.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Uganda’s much-discussed bailout



How to help distressed companies without removing the risk from lenders and borrowers
On March 31 2016, the total value of all loans in Uganda’s commercial banking industry was Shs21.7 trillion of which Shs528 billion were non-performing loans (or “bad loans”) i.e. 2.64% of the total. Under the effective oversight of Bank of Uganda, especially its director for supervision; Justine Bagyenda (known in the industry as Uganda’s Iron Lady), non-performing loans have averaged 1.7% over the last 10 years. Although there was deterioration, it was a far cry from the 17% non-performing loans in 1996.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Inside Rwanda’s police state

Why Rwandans tell pollsters they are free while abstract standards of freedom say the country is repressive

The view that Rwanda is a police state is such an entrenched position among critics of President Paul Kagame that it has become gospel truth. Last week on my radio talk show on KFM, I showed panelists videos of police in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya mercilessly beating up demonstrators. I told them I have never seen a Rwanda police officer beat a civilian thereby letting lose the dogs of intellectual and emotional war. If I had not been a dictatorial moderator, my views would have been drowned in the ensuing uproar. All the panelists said this is because Rwanda is a police state where people lack the freedom to challenge government.

Monday, July 25, 2016

URA’s poor tax administration



How corruption has disabled mechanisms through which the business community can fight for better tax laws

Uganda’s ratio of taxes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has remained almost stagnant for 19 years. In 1997, it was 11%. Since then it has risen to 13.7% only to fall back to 12%. This is in spite of the fact that over this period, monetary GDP has increased from 76% to 94% and taxable GPD from 52% to 81% today. Last financial year, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) collected Shs 11.3 trillion in taxes against a GDP of Shs 86 trillion as per June 30th. This means that the tax to GDP ratio is now 12%.

Monday, July 18, 2016

America’s war on its black citizens



Slavery in America may have ended but the US state has reproduced it through mass incarceration of blacks and police violence in poor black communities due to its hidden economic gains

Recent events in the United States; where police shot and killed two black men in cold blood may have dominated the news but they are actually normal and regular. What was unusual was a lone black man who decided to take matters into his hands and strike back at America’s institutionalised system of racial subjugation and violence, killing five police officers and injuring seven more. Since then, there has been more outpouring of sympathy for the police, including from President Barack Obama, than to the daily victims of police terror.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Uganda’s economic growth dilemma

Why our country remains poor with high unemployment in spite of 28 years of huge expansion in GDP

Last week, I spent an entire day at Uganda Bureau of Statistics crunching numbers with the staff on our GPD growth between 1986 and 2014. There is only one route for nations to grow rich: sustained economic growth over a very long period of time. Economics and statisticians use “The Rule of 72”. It states that if an economy (or anything under measurement for that matter) grew at 1% per year, it would double every 72 years. However, if anything grew at 7% per year, it would double every ten years.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A tale of two roundabouts

Why the story of Rwanda’s economic success keeps being juxtaposed with human rights abuses

Last week I was in Kigali, Rwanda, after only two weeks of absence. Driving from the airport to the city, I found two new roundabouts near the new Convention Center complex. On my right was a 400 meters long boulevard leading to presidents’ office. My Rwandan friends told me that they too woke up one Saturday morning only to find this infrastructure in place – built over one night. It is an incredible feat these Rwandans have pulled off in their preparations to host the African Union Heads of State summit this July. Kampala Capital City Authority has spent the last six months trying to fix the roundabout at Fairway Hotel.

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.”

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Fight over misguided objectives

Why the competition for power is always a quarrel over delusions rather than a contest over public policy

I argued in this column last week that governments in poor countries cannot govern by delivering a large basket of public goods and services associated with a modern state because they don’t have the human and financial resources to do so. The state in Africa faces a huge mismatch between financial human resources capacities on the one hand and the governance standards inherited from the West on the other. A significant source of our frustrations as Africans emanates from this mismatch.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Africa: thinking outside the box

Why leaders of poor countries are not as cruel and selfish as Western media portray them
 
In a moment of madness, I toyed with the idea of running for president of Uganda. I had the hubris to imagine I am the guy who can solve its myriad problems because President Yoweri Museveni is incompetent and his perennial challenger, Dr. Kizza Besigye, is a demagogue. I sought to be scientific and drew up a budget that could provide a modest basket of public goods and services associated with a modern state – education, healthcare, agriculture extension services, clean water, electricity, roads, etc. My conclusion was depressing and – I hope – illuminating.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A frank memo to our elite

Why we should downplay anecdotal evidence by looking at scientific data that gives a broader picture

So last week the cancer machine at Mulago Hospital collapsed, causing uproar in mainstream and social media. Every newspaper columnist or television/radio pundit of any heft weighed in. Daily Monitor devoted its whole Thursday opinions page on this subject. Pundits outdid each other in over-stating how this is a sign that the entire health sector “has fallen apart”. Yet cancer is not a major killer, not even among the top 20 killer diseases. So why all this self-righteous indignation?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Uganda’s failure to transform

Why in spite of registering good welfare outcomes we have made little progress at structural transformation



I have just been reading the National Population and Housing Census (NHPC) report for 2014. It shows Uganda has registered many welfare improvements, but also reveals that President Yoweri Museveni’s dream of transforming Uganda from an agrarian to an industrial society has not progressed. Let us look at welfare improvements first.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Learning from the market

FDC via Monitor and New Vision

How the competition between Monitor and New Vision has important lessons for Besigye’s next presidential election
I hope FDC takes the critical lesson from this story because many FDC officials downplay the need for organisational infrastructure to win, especially, presidential elections. They believe all they need is passionate voters. This is simply wrong. To win, passion is important; but is not sufficient.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The power of social media

How Museveni got 60% of the votes and Besigye won the election

The subject of who won the February 18 election seems to be settled among supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye. They believe their candidate won.

I have also met supporters of President Yoweri Museveni who suspect Besigye’s claims to hold some water. When your opponent sows seeds of doubt among your supporters, then you know he is either right or has won the war of public perception.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The good about Donald Trump

Why America needs to own up to her evils that are always hidden behind the cloak of self-righteousness
For the last six months, the American elite establishment has conducted a Taliban-like campaign of vilification against the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lessons for Uganda from Rwanda

Why Uganda needs to reintroduce a broad-based government but this time handle it differently

It is impossible for anyone to convince Dr. Kizza Besigye and his supporters that he lost the just concluded elections. It is equally impossible to convince President Yoweri Museveni and his supporters that they did not win the elections. Besigye and his supporters see Museveni as an ageing dictator determined to cling to power at all costs. So they are determined to bring him down at all costs. Museveni and his supporters see Besigye as a power-hungry demagogue and sour loser seeking to destabilise the country by precipitating an urban insurrection. They are determined to crush him.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Why I prayed for Besigye to win

How Museveni’s victory saved Besigye from confronting the hard reality of Uganda’s politics

President Yoweri Museveni has again defeated his main rival, Dr. Kizza Besigye, in an election the opposition claim was stolen. Whatever the merits of this accusation, Besigye’s defeat is also his greatest triumph. It has saved him from confronting the reality of managing a poor country, a factor that would have humbled Besigye and quieted his unthinking and often, unruly supporters. Let us assume a Besigye victory where Museveni would have conceded defeat, called the retired colonel, and congratulated him upon his victory. In one stroke, Museveni would have delivered unto his main rival a devastating knockout blow. Besigye has always claimed that Museveni is a power-hungry maniac determined to cling to power as all costs. In conceding defeat, the president would have made Besigye’s accusation lose meaning.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The second presidential debate

Inside Museveni’s greatest moments and Besigye’s political maturity even at great cost to himself

So finally President Yoweri Museveni defied all predictions and attended the presidential debate. I can say without any fear of contradiction that Museveni did so in defiance of the advice of everyone in NRM and immediate family. It was an entirely personal decision. But it is Kizza Besigye, more than Museveni that made the debate presidential. I will return to explain this later on in the article.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Myths and realities about Africa

Why poor countries have poor services and rich nations have better services

Joseph Mukasa is a peasant in Uganda. He has been performing well in expanding the output of his three acres piece of land. From an income of about Shs5,000 per month in 1995, (which when adjusted to inflation comes to Shs18,000 in 2015 prices), he now makes Shs130,000 per month. This is because he begun employing modern agricultural techniques such as fertilisers, irrigation and improved seeds that are both fast maturing and high yielding. In real terms, Mukasa has actually grown his income by 700% in 20 years.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is Obama a black man?



How he has accepted the categorisation imposed upon him by a racial system that subjugated black people
US President Barak Obama calls himself a black man. Indeed, America and the rest of the world refer to him as a black man. Yet we all know he is actually a person of mixed ancestry. His father was a black man from Kenya, his mother a white woman from Kansas. If Obama had been born in Uganda, he would be called a “mucotera”, in apartheid South Africa, a “colored”, in Brazil, a “mulatto” and in mainstream English, a “half caste”. This teaches us that racial categories are not biological but social constructions.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Beyond campaign rhetoric


How journalists have allowed campaign rhetoric to obscure issues that are fundamental to the election

President Yoweri Museveni’s campaign strapline; `Steady Progress’ sounds like a slogan from a communist pamphlet, not a marketing sound-bite in a competitive election. With it, the President is not promising anything new or spectacular but merely more of the same. This reflects a severe lack of imagination in the President’s campaign strategy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

MDG'S : LET AFRICA SHAPE HER DESTINY.

WEDNESDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER 2010 01:35 BY ANDREW M. MWENDA

Most of this week has been consumed by the debate on the progress poor countries have made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). I have never been an enthusiast of MDGs because I see them as part of the increasing efforts by the international community to disregard the sovereignty of African states. The inevitable outcome of this well intentioned effort is actually to undermine our democratic process.
On the face of it, MDGs are an important effort by the international community to mobilize global solidarity to improve the lives of the poor. Indeed, the main pillars of MDGs are to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty, reduce child and infant mortality, eliminate extreme hunger, promote gender equality, achieve universal primary education, improve maternal health etc. All these are important goals that poor countries should strive to achieve.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Uganda’s `presidential’ debate



Last week, we were treated to a televised debate among Uganda’s presidential candidates. Although we face an immense task of transforming our country from a poor and backward nation into a rich industrial society, our presidential candidates’ arguments fell far below what is required to achieve this task. For example, all the candidates talked about poor delivery of public goods and services. But they assumed this is due to corruption and the lack of care by those in power. Yet the real challenge of Uganda is that we are a poor country that cannot afford to pay for a large basket of public goods and services to the quality we desire.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Behind Magufuli’s political stunts



Why Tanzania’s new president is doing the right thing the wrong way and why he may fail
 
Since early November 2015, newly elected Tanzanian president, John Pombe Magufuli, has captured the imagination of many African elites on social media by his brazen actions of cutting unnecessary government spending and firing “incompetent and lazy” government employees. He visited a hospital unannounced and after being appalled by its sorry state, fired management and the board right on the spot. He went to the port of Dar es Salaam, and seeing the mess, fired the entire management there and then. He cancelled independence anniversary celebrations and directed that the money be used for health services. He cut foreign trips by government officials saying ambassadors can do the work. The story goes on and on.

Monday, January 11, 2016

African countries are not generic



Why we need to use the results of the referendum in Rwanda to think instead of relying on prejudice to judge

In 2014, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso sought to amend his nation’s constitution and remove term limits so that he could run for the presidency again. His citizens took to the streets in anger, burnt down parliament and literally chased him out of town and office. He now lives in exile in Ivory Coast. In 2012 in Senegal, President Abdoulaye Wade wanted to run for a third term. The opposition contested his aspiration in court saying he had already served two terms. Court ruled (I think correctly) that the constitution had been amended during his first time and could therefore not apply retrospectively. Wade went to the polls but was defeated.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The crisis of Africa’s intellectual elite



How the West has built a global incentive system that sustains a negative narrative against Africa

Steve Biko once said the greatest weapon in the hands of an oppressor is not his armies and arms but the mind of the oppressed. Antonio Gramsci had made a similar observation regarding forms of domination. He argued that a ruling class does not dominate subordinate classes simply through [its] state’s instruments of coercion and repression (as Karl Marx had posited) but through the development of a dominant ideology, which he called hegemony.