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, February 26, 2018

The problem with Africa

The problem with Africa: If our countries remain poor, it’s because its leaders and elites are too kind to their people to force transformation

Last week, President Yoweri Museveni tweeted a picture of himself pushing a bicycle in some village “promoting” an irrigation scheme. It was a masterstroke in the politics of dealing with peasants whose support he desires. The problem was the medium of broadcasting his initiative – Twitter.
The Uganda social media crowd dislike Museveni. Being educated and urban, they see agriculture as a reflection of backwardness. I agree. No country where most people depend on agriculture for a livelihood is rich. Trying to help peasants become better at what they do may be good politics and even improve their lot but it cannot transform them. The future prosperity of Africa will depend on ending the peasantry.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The challenge of state legitimacy

Government can only govern if people comply with its demands, but why do people comply?

The German sociologist, Max Weber, argued that if the state is to exist, the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be. Then he posed an important question: when and why do men obey? He identified three main types of legitimate authority: the first that is derived from the personal charisma of a ruler, the second derived from tradition, and the third derived from a set of widely accepted laws and rules that determine who should govern and how.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fashionable nonsense

How the debate on governance in Africa is a toxic combination of high emotion and little knowledge

 It is fashionable across our continent to condemn governments for poor delivery of public goods and services. This, it is argued, is caused by corruption, incompetence, and greed by our leaders. This is captured in the modern lexicon as “bad governance”. Yet in spite of many changes of government, and with the exception of post genocide Rwanda, no poor country can avoid this accusation.
I argued in this column last week that what we call “bad governance” is not only the most cost effective and cost efficient way of managing power relations in the context of poverty, it is actually the only affordable way of doing so. But first let me make a caveat.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Losing my innocence

How my hubris to become president of Uganda pulled me from the trees of utopia to the hard rock of reality
 I want to continue with a line of thought from this column last week i.e. that African countries cannot be governed using strategies Western governments employ to govern their societies.
Government legitimacy in the West is based on many things. But one critical source of legitimacy is the ability of the state to provide all its citizens with a large basket of public goods and services. Sadly, African nations do not have the money to govern that way.