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, May 22, 2017

Why Kayihura remains IGP



His contract was renewed because his enemies inside the government underestimate him while the opposition demonise him

Parliament last week approved President Yoweri Museveni’s reappointment of Gen. Kale Kayihura as Inspector General of Police (IGP). With 12 years at the helm, Kayihura is now the longest serving IGP in Uganda’s history and equally the most controversial. This is unprecedented. No one has held such a sensitive job while exercising the amount of power Kayihura does for a long period under Museveni. He has achieved this is in spite of (and also because of) having many enemies in the system and criticism from the opposition and media.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

BYANYIMA: A giant retires



Muzei Byanyima. FILE PHOTO VIA @winnie_byanyima
What Uganda’s current and future politicians can learn from the life and character of Mzee Byanyima

Although I knew he was old (at 96) and was aware of his declining health I was still shocked when I heard the news of the death of Mzee Boniface Byanyima. I have since been trying to frame my impressions of this giant of a man. I knew him very well. I used to visit him at his home in Ruti, Mbarara, sometimes spending Christmas or Easter holidays there. At other times I would be driving through Mbarara and pass by him at his home, even spend a night to talk and listen to his wisdom and experience.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The logic of Besigye’s claims



What psychology tells us about FDC’s claims to have won last year’s presidential election

This column is a logical thought experiment. Recently, opposition presidential candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye, claimed on a television show that he won the last presidential elections and that he has evidence to prove it. This was a very vital revelation, which Besigye has actually made many times in the past. I was surprised the moderator did not ask him to table his evidence.

Monday, May 8, 2017

On Museveni and Stella Nyanzi



How the detention and trial of a Makerere academic exposes the moral bankruptcy of Uganda’s elites

Dr. Stella Nyanzi, an academic at Makerere University, has been jailed for using foul language to criticise President Yoweri Museveni and his wife, Janet. It is permissible to call the president a dictator or corrupt. I find it morally reprehensible for Nyanzi to refer to their sexual organs in a vulgar way to express her frustration with their power though I disagree that such language should be criminalised. Mrs Museveni responded to Nyanzi’s insults with grace and dignity. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity for a policy debate, Nyanzi used (and abused) it to hurl even worse sexually lurid insults at her.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Uganda’s declining growth

Why we need to think of how to develop national capacity to manage our economy

Uganda is going through the worst economic performance since 1987 when the government of President Yoweri Museveni began liberal economic reform. In the first quarter of this financial year, the economy contracted by 0.1%; the second quarter it grew by 0.8%, far below projected growth of 5.5%. Given a population growth rate of 3.12%, per capita income has contracted by 2.3% between July and December, the reason The Independent last week reported that Ugandans have grown poorer.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The problem with term limits



As Sierra Leone’s president seeks to amend the constitution and extend his presidency, it is time for Africa to pause and reflect
The president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, wants to amend the constitution and remove term limits on the presidency. Koroma is not the first and will not be the last president of an African country to attempt this. Many others have done it with success while a few have failed. Yet each time a country attempts to remove term limits, we have a standard explanation: the leader is greedy for power. Since the 1990s, we have regurgitated this explanation, reducing a social issue to the character of an individual.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Museveni-Besigye talks



How the opposition leader has blundered on the chance to promote his political project – if he has any

Media reports have recently indicated there are attempts to organise talks between the government and the opposition. For such talks to be meaningful, they have to involve President Yoweri Museveni and his main rival, Dr. Kizza Besigye. Even before anything tangible could materialise, however, Besigye was already bragging that “the dictatorship” is weak and has, therefore, approached him and his people “begging” for talks. The government, meanwhile, was denying involvement in any talks.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Manufacturing still matters



Why very few poor countries will escape poverty by taking gigantic leaps into the service industry

Two weeks ago, I had a disagreement with the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, at a conference in Kigali, Rwanda. Kim had argued that increasing automation and use of robots is taking away jobs. He showed a slide of numbers of jobs at risk of being lost due to automation by country – China 77%, India 69%, Nigeria 65%, Ethiopia 85%, South Africa 67%, USA 47%, Argentina 65% and Thailand 72%.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Africa through North Korean eyes



Why this communist state, with per capita income like ours, manufactures nuclear weapons and satellites while we can’t
Last week the U.S. announced its intelligence showed North Korea was planning to test another nuclear weapon. If it does, it will be the sixth nuclear test by this poor isolated nation.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Why Museveni will rule for life



How, barring a major surprise, the current power structure in Uganda makes lifting presidential age limit inevitable

Those debating the succession issue in Uganda should refer to Rome in 44BC. Rome had been a republic since 509BC when the patricians rose in revolt and deposed King Tarquinius Superbus. For nearly five centuries monarchy was taboo in Rome. Whenever anyone exhibited signs of strong leadership, critics would, to discredit him, accuse him of trying to make himself king.

Why Museveni will rule for life



How, barring a major surprise, the current power structure in Uganda makes lifting presidential age limit inevitable
Those debating the succession issue in Uganda should refer to Rome in 44BC. Rome had been a republic since 509BC when the patricians rose in revolt and deposed King Tarquinius Superbus. For nearly five centuries monarchy was taboo in Rome. Whenever anyone exhibited signs of strong leadership, critics would, to discredit him, accuse him of trying to make himself king.
On March 15 that year, senatorial conspirators of the Roman Republic led by Marcus Brutus assassinated Julius Caesar a powerful general and politician accusing him of trying to make himself king.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rethinking Africa’s development



Why our intellectual elites need to begin an entirely new conversation about our nations

African intellectual elites exhibit a conceptual contradiction. When economic performance is poor they argue that the major source of the problem is bad leadership. And when they talk of leadership, our intellectual elites often mean one person – the president. Their argument implies that they believe the destiny of our nations can be shaped by the actions of a single man or woman. This is the “great hero of history” thesis as championed by the Scottish philosopher, Thomas Carlyle. It actually calls for strong man rule, unrestrained by either institutions or other societal forces. This is a call to tyranny.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Trump’s war with the press



How the new US president is bursting the Washington bubble and annoying the nation’s hypocrites

For many decades, American journalists have deluded themselves into the belief that they are unelected representatives of the people. They are convinced that their profession places them above politics as impartial, altruistic, compassionate and moral human beings – with the responsibility to hold elected officials to account. The politicians accept this media self-aggrandizement and play (and prey) on it. They massage the journalists’ inflated egos, giving them access. Yet in many ways the politicians control these journalists and shape their career trajectories.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Uganda’s real oil curse



How our overblown expectations of what oil is going to do for our country are likely to cause trouble

I had always thought about the “oil curse” in terms of the “Dutch Disease” and the adverse incentives it creates that foster corruption in politics. The Dutch Disease refers to the tendency of oil revenue windfalls to kill other productive sectors of the economy. This happens when oil revenues lead to the appreciation in the value of the national currency thereby making a country’s other exports less competitive.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Uganda’s agricultural crisis



How politics, not the drought, explains the current famine our country is experiencing 

According a report by the government of Uganda last week nearly 11 million people in this country do not have enough food to eat. I have concerns with the way the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) calculates growth in agriculture. I also have queries on how they ask people the meals they have in a day. I will return to these concerns later in this article.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why are Ugandans so angry?



How economic success has tended to create more political trouble for Museveni than comfort

Very many Ugandans are angry, very angry. They feel the country has lost direction. They argue that our politics is corrupted, our democracy in retreat, and elections are rigged. They say the economy is not growing, poverty is increasing, inequality is widening, and state capacity to deliver public goods and services has been grossly eroded. Yet the opposite is the case on almost all these issues. Uganda is more democratic today than ever before and elections are increasingly freer and fairer. The country is making massive and unprecedented investments in infrastructure that will give it future productivity gains. Yet when you cite evidence of all these, critics retort that the numbers are cooked.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Unmasking TVO


An investigation reveals who really is behind Facebook character

How do you track a character who is hell-bent on hiding their identity on the online social networking service, Facebook? That is the task several individuals and intelligence institutions in Uganda have sought to answer as they sought to unmask a Facebook character called Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO). Pseudo names associated with this character include Maverick Blutaski, General Shaka, Rtd Gen. Maverick, and Poliko. The only real person name associated with the character is a 41-year old man called Shaka Robert Kananura.

Uganda is stuck with Museveni because the opposition is stuck with Besigye



Given the high growth of visits to my page during the this festive season, I will be posting daily briefs on the crisis of the opposition in Uganda which I want to blame largely on Dr. Kizza Besigye. Indeed Uganda is stuck with President Yoweri Museveni in large part because the opposition is stuck with Besigye. Why is this so?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Why are Ugandans so angry?



How economic success has tended to create more political trouble for Museveni than comfort

Very many Ugandans are angry, very angry. They feel the country has lost direction. They argue that our politics is corrupted, our democracy in retreat, and elections are rigged. They say the economy is not growing, poverty is increasing, inequality is widening, and state capacity to deliver public goods and services has been grossly eroded. Yet the opposite is the case on almost all these issues. Uganda is more democratic today than ever before and elections are increasingly freer and fairer. The country is making massive and unprecedented investments in infrastructure that will give it future productivity gains. Yet when you cite evidence of all these, critics retort that the numbers are cooked.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why I love Donald Trump



The new U.S president is a breath of fresh air into a political atmosphere polluted by liberal lies and hypocrisy

Over the last two weeks, the mass media in America and the Western world has been pounding President Donald Trump for imposing a travel ban on people traveling from seven Muslim majority countries. They project Trump as a racist violating “Western values.” Yet Trump’s actions are the logical (and inevitable) culmination of a protracted campaign by Western opinion leaders (liberal and conservative) propagating a false and dangerous narrative that demonises Muslims and criminalises black and brown people.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The trouble with Besigye’s radicals



Something must be wrong, totally wrong with Besigye faction of FDC radicals. Either they are few on the ground but noisy on social media. In which case M7 can afford to ignore them.
Or they are many but lack both strategy and leadership to convert their strength into ability to gain power. In which case they need a new leader from Besigye.

Museveni and Besigye, birds of a feather that fly apart



During this festive season visits to my fb page hit a record high. Two subjects were of great interest; one raised by me, that to discuss the future of Uganda, we need to discuss the leadership of the opposition in Uganda especially the role of Dr. Kizza Besigye.

The FDC responded saying that the most important issue for national debate on the future of our country is my sexuality; whether I sleep with boys or girls or both. I had called this section of fanatics mentally retarded. Their position on the future of our country has caused me to change my mind. I think they are the Albert Einsteins of our continent.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Museveni freedom fighter talk




Why Museveni said he is not a servant of anyone and who may have been the target of his statement
 


On the occasion marking 31 years in power, President Yoweri Museveni told the nation that he is not a servant of the people but a freedom fighter who works for himself and his beliefs. This let loose the dogs of social media war. But the debate focused on the message and the messenger but not the purpose. It seems to me Museveni intended his message as presented. We can speculate about whom (or even what) he had in mind when he made that statement. But it shows the dangers of speaking off script especially when the target of your message is not your audience.

Monday, January 30, 2017

In defense of oil cash bonanza


Why it was morally right to reward public officials for winning Shs1.6 trillion worth of government revenues

“It is not easy to stand apart from mass hysteria, to argue against something that everyone, especially the most respected political leaders, academics, and experts are saying and instead argue that they are mistaken or deluded.” Leo Tolstoy, 1897.

Monday, January 23, 2017

End of a global nightmare



Why Trump may be a breath of fresh air into the global atmosphere that had been polluted by Obama’s megalomania

Finally the nightmare called the presidency of Barack Obama that the world (but most especially America) has endured over the last eight years comes to an end. This self-inflated and self-styled “black man” imagined himself to straddle the globe like a colossus. He deluded himself into the belief that he was a man of boundless importance. He convinced himself that he alone understood the problems of the world and was singularly qualified to solve them.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Economic growth Vs development


Don’t judge Uganda by where it is but by the speed at which it is growing 


I have been arguing that Uganda’s economy has been growing at an impressive rate over the last 30 years. Many readers have written to me saying that although we are growing economically, we are not developing. This shows a misunderstanding of the relationship between growth and development. Economic growth refers to a quantitative increase in the goods and services produced within an economy in a given period of time. Development is a qualitative increase in the same.

Monday, January 9, 2017

ECOMOG’s Gambian gamble



The likely dangers of the Western African states’ attempts to impose a solution on The Gambia

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to send a military force (ECOMOG) into The Gambia apparently to achieve three interrelated objectives: first to “protect” the president-elect, Adama Barrow; second to uphold the presidential elections results that President Yahya Jammeh has cancelled; third to ensure that Barrow is sworn in as president. This is a big gamble that is likely to cause more problems than it seeks to solve.

Kizza Besigye’s biggest mistake


And how it is killing opposition to Museveni

On Feb.2, Kizza Besigye, the former Presidential flag bearer for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), called the press to announce a new pressure group he is calling the People’s Government Network.
Besigye called on supporters to be representatives of the network in their communities and help build pressure against President Yoweri Museveni’s government.