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, August 31, 2015

Lessons for opposition from opinion polls

Ugandans seem unhappy with Museveni but they don’t seem to be willing to accept his opponents either. Here is why

We are exactly six months away from elections and recent opinion polls are already giving us a glimpse of things to come. The polls reveal that there is widespread voter fatigue with President Yoweri Museveni. His popularity has fallen from 68% in 2010/11 to about 51% now. This is a borderline position that if anything adverse happens, like we see the economy slowly slipping downhill, Museveni’s margin may go further down. Such a crisis can change people’s moods, thereby increasing voter turnout. This would force Museveni into a second round, a situation he can only recover from by employing a degree of violence that forces his opponents to pull out of the election.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The dilemma of Africa’s reformers

How corruption becomes a necessary vice for successful politicians who win elections by denouncing it

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine you are a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections in Uganda. You have all the good policies and ideas. And you want to build a winning electoral coalition. What is the most critical thing you need? It is building an organisational structure that allows you to reach all parts of the country.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Obama cannot liberate Africa

This article was written for The Guardian

How regurgitating stereotypes and prejudice about Africa easily gets you audience in Western media

So I chanced upon an article by a one Patience Akumu (`Why Obama doesn’t understand the lust for power of our African leaders’, The Guardian UK, Aug.2). To Akumu, Africa needs President Barack Obama’s lectures because “his powerful words are the kind of inspirational tool we Africans – both young and old – need to lift our downtrodden and intimidated souls…?” The author also says that Africa was better under colonial rule than after independence.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The problem with missionary politics

Why obsession with presidential term limits in Africa is a secular gospel based on faith than historic facts 

US President Barack Obama excited a section of Africa’s elite when he denounced African leaders who rule for very long, some even dying in office. This seems common sense. But how long is long? The ancient Romans thought a year was long enough. When in 509 BC they abolished monarchy and established a republic, they created a senate that would elect two councils (later tribunes) who would serve a one-year non-renewable term. When in 132 BC Tiberius Gracchus attempted to violate this rule and run for a second term, senators led by Scipio Nasica accused him of trying to become king. They attacked him wielding clubs in the Forum and killed him. So by the standards of the ancient republican Rome, Obama’s eight years is a very long time for a leader to be in power.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Obama in Kenya

Although Obama behaved better in Nairobi compared to Accra, here is why I still have a bone to pick with him

So finally, U.S. President Barak Obama visited his ancestral homeland of Kenya to a rousing welcome. This was understandable because for most of recorded history (a history largely, if not entirely, written by our conquerors) we have been presented as inferior. In almost every book, movie or news story on television, radio and newspapers, we are depicted as poor, hungry, or sick and in need of assistance from external benefactors. Where a story of our social initiative is told, we are depicted as violent, incompetent and corrupt hence incapable of self-government. Obama excites our imagination because we see in his success the image of a future we aspire for.