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, December 23, 2019

Corruption and poverty

Why our obsession with corruption as a cause of our poverty is too much ado over little or nothing

THE LAST WORD |  Andrew M. Mwenda |  Cognitive scientists argue that human beings are [inherently] cognitive misers i.e. we prefer to do as little thinking as possible. So when we confront a challenge, our instinct is NOT to look for facts to help us understand it. Rather we lean on our biases, prejudices, values and beliefs to make judgment. Evolutionary psychology explains why it is not profitable for us to stretch our minds to acquire a large body of knowledge. Evolution is driven largely by reproduction. The command of a large body of facts did not give our ancestors a competitive advantage in the dating market. The most competitive qualities in mate selection are power, wealth, generosity, kindness, caring, good looks, good health and such artistic qualities as music, art, athletics etc.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Atubo’s disappointing lamentations

Why African elites are deluded to think the “international community” has our best interests at heart

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |  Last week, I read with sadness, disappointment, disillusionment and frustration an article in Daily Monitor by former minister Omara Atubo. He was explaining why he signed a petition to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict President Yoweri Museveni. I have known Atubo for decades and have always held him in high esteem as among the most thoughtful politicians in Uganda. His article is widely quoted below to provide perspective.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Besigye’s political honesty

How the leading opposition figure hit the nail on the head when talking about money and politics

THE LAST WORD | By Andrew M. Mwenda | Last week, I attended the launch of an autobiography by former cabinet minister, Mathew Rukikaire: 70 Years a Witness. In attendance was Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leading pillar of the opposition in Uganda and four times presidential candidate against President Yoweri Museveni. In his speech, Besigye said UPM polled badly in the 1980 elections because its candidates had no money. Besigye said Rukikaire got the highest number of votes of all UPM candidates in 1980, even polling higher than party president, Museveni, because he (Rukikaire) was rich.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Understanding Kajura’s woes

 Why many of our politicians go broke after leaving cabinet even though we think they are rich


 THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, media reported that former Deputy Prime Minister, Henry Kajura, is in financial trouble. Three years after leaving cabinet, he is losing his house to a moneylender for failure to pay a loan. For a man who served in cabinet for 27 consecutive years, this is shocking. Yet Kajura is not alone. Our nation has a long list of politicians who move from cabinet/parliament to economic destitution. In a country where people see politicians as corrupt and therefore rich, this is viewed as a paradox of monumental proportions. But it is not.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The politics of Uganda’s healthcare

Why our hospitals lack ambulances as public officials indulge themselves in fancy four-wheel drive vehicles


THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week someone close to me had a medical emergency in Mubende referral hospital. A child died inside the womb of his fiancé. The only ambulance the hospital has had a mechanical fault that has not been fixed yet. So he could not evacuate his fiancé to Kampala.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A frank memo to the youths

Why young people in East Africa should stop agonising and begin organising

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week I was in Arusha Tanzania to speak at a conference of youths from East Africa organised by YouLead. They came bustling with the energy and zest. I was impressed by their passion but concerned that energy without proper guidance can be destructive.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Uganda’s democratic delusions

How Museveni, Besigye and Bobi Wine are birds of a feather that only fly apart

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week, the state brought out the full power of riot police to bear on opposition activist, Dr. Kizza Besigye. Using water cannons, they took direct aim at him during a procession, nearly yanking him off the roof of his car. It provided considerable grist to the anti-President Yoweri Museveni mill. I wonder whether Museveni sees these videos and what he thinks of them. For instance, do they make him feel comfortable in the presidency, seeing that he has power to subdue his opponents? Or do they make him feel embarrassed that he is acting brutally like Idi Amin?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Against privileges for a few

Why Makerere University students (and lecturers) do not need or deserve special treatment

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The strike by Makerere University students over a 15% increase in fees, actually based on a recommendation by the Students Guild, has dominated media for a week. The government of President Yoweri Museveni, in its characteristic militarist fashion, sent in the army. A video of soldiers frog-matching students, kicking them with their boots and rifle butts went viral. This is the stuff that gives Uganda’s noisy elites an opportunity to exhibit their pretentious middle class human rights sensibilities.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Understanding Kajura’s woes

Why many of our politicians go broke after leaving cabinet even though we think they are rich

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, media reported that former Deputy Prime Minister, Henry Kajura, is in financial trouble. Three years after leaving cabinet, he is losing his house to a moneylender for failure to pay a loan. For a man who served in cabinet for 27 consecutive years, this is shocking. Yet Kajura is not alone. Our nation has a long list of politicians who move from cabinet/parliament to economic destitution. In a country where people see politicians as corrupt and therefore rich, this is viewed as a paradox of monumental proportions. But it is not.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Inside Europe’s savior complex

How Western efforts to remake Africa have changed from colonialism to international development assistance
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, I was invited to speak on international development assistance (foreign aid) at the geopolitical conference at Makerere University organised by the French embassy and the Konrad Adenuar Foundation. My presentation caused uproar because I argued that the first large-scale attempt to use foreign aid to develop Africa was colonialism.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sudan’s next disaster

Why the plan to hand Bashir over to the ICC is misguided and will likely be counterproductive

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The new government of Sudan has given a major indication that it will hand its former president, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. The ICC indicted Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity. For many years, the government of Sudan backed by the African Union (AU) refused to hand him over. That the new administration is thinking of handing him over is a major betrayal of the African cause.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Lessons from Tunisia’s elections

Why her success at democratisation is a result of the absence of foreign interference in her politics

THE LAST WORLD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | This week Tunisians voted in the second parliamentary elections since the 2011 Arab Spring. Over 15,000 candidates vied for the 217 parliamentary seats. There was very low voter turnout for these elections, which “experts” say is because people have lost hope in elections. The economic situation in the country is worse than under the government of Ahmed Ben Ali, the long serving president, whom Tunisians overthrew in January 2011. The elections have been held against the backdrop of high inflation and unemployment, the problems the revolution sought to cure.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Lesson from Hoima by-election

Why NRM should be worried and why the opposition needs to rethink their political strategy

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, the NRM narrowly won the elections for women MP in Hoima district. According to results, NRM’s Harriet Businge got 33,000 votes (54%) against FDC’s Asinansi Nyakato with 29,000 votes (46%). This is a major setback for NRM, which has historically won Hoima with huge margins. In 2006, the FDC candidate for Women MP in Hoima got only 15% of the votes the NRM candidate got, in 2011 only 10% and in 2016 25%. In this by election, the FDC candidate got 86% of the votes the NRM candidate got.

Monday, September 30, 2019

America’s human rights imperialism 2

MWENDA: Why we should be suspicious of America’s attempts to insert itself in our national politics 

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Why did the United States sanction Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, on allegations of violation of human rights, corruption and smuggling without providing the evidence for the allegations? Why after he has left office and two years after its own Department of Justice awarded him a medal for excellence in fighting terrorism? Why is the indictment coming one and a half years to the beginning of the 2021 presidential election campaigns?

Monday, September 23, 2019

America’s human rights imperialism

How US government sanctions against Kayihura are a toxic mixture of ignorance, prejudice and hypocrisy

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | And so the United States Department of State has sanctioned Uganda’s former Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura. Henceforth, he, his children and wife will not be allowed to travel to the United States, own property there, hold a bank account in that great country or transact business with its banks. Of course we acknowledge this to be the sovereign right of this great power. Yet we lesser humans have to bear the risk of criticising the almighty.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Uganda’s height of folly

How gross absurdities and misguided corruption fears have killed Uganda’s oil industry

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Uganda has been trying to get oil of out the ground for the last 12 years, having discovered reserves in 2007. Last week Tullow ended its proposed farm-down to CNOOC and Total of 21.7% of its 33.3% shareholding in the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with these two firms. Then Total announced an indefinite suspension of the pipeline project plus planned investment in the oil production facilities. Both CNOOC and Total have begun a massive lay off of staff by about 70%. Tullow did this a long time ago.

Monday, September 9, 2019

From king to emperor

What the politics of People Power tells us about the nature of government they will preside over


THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | People Power is the most trending political cult in Uganda. They are angry at the corruption of President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) government. While its followers carry a deep sense of victimhood, they are not resigned but energised. They want to get Museveni out of power – but what for? To that later!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Missing insights in our healthcare

The lesson from pictures of many newly born babies packed on beds and chairs at Kawempe Hospital
THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Last week, someone took pictures of Kawempe Hospital with a multitude of newly born babies laying on congested hospital beds and plastic chairs. This provided considerable grist for the anti-President Yoweri Museveni and anti-government of Uganda mill. As expected, Uganda’s chattering elites went wild on social and other media; they denounced government for its corruption, incompetence and selfishness with self-righteous indignation.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Museveni’s wealth creation tours

Why the president’s countrywide tours may win him peasant votes but not make them rich

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | President Yoweri Museveni concluded his countrywide tour, an early campaign effort creatively dabbed “wealth creation,” with a letter to “bazukulu”. The letter is a tour de raison of the economic history of Uganda from pre-colonial times to date served by an unstinting host. I wish such rich historic insights were available to students in Uganda from primary through secondary school to university.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Bobby Wine’s Ziggy Wyne

How an unknown young man’s death turned him into a political football for opportunistic politicians

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, it became apparent that the initial news that a one Michael [K]alinda aka Zigy Wyne had been kidnapped, eye yanked out, fingers chopped off and face burnt using a flat iron were exactly that – a hoax. Zigy had a nasty motorbike accident at 7.30pm on July 21. People around the accident scene picked him up and took him to the nearby Hope Clinic. The nurse at the clinic referred him to Mulago for urgent medical attention.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Inside the NRM struggle

William Pike’s account of the clash between Museveni’s utopia and Uganda’s hard reality

THE LAST WORD |  Andrew M. Mwenda |  A The capture of power by President Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) in January 1986 was a moment of great hope. Blood had been shed, lives lost, careers abandoned, families left behind and educations sacrificed in a heroic effort to liberate the country from tyranny. It was called a new dawn, a fresh beginning, a rebirth. Museveni’s inaugural speech reflected this mood when he promised “a fundamental change in the politics of our country.” There would be democracy and freedom. And there would be rapid economic development to transform the lives of Ugandans.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The dangers to our liberty

Why we should be wary of the influence of new communication technologies in the hands of extremists 

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In 1948 George Orwell published his novel, 1984. It is a classic statement of the danger to individual liberty posed by increasing technological sophistication, especially in the hands of the state. The novel is set in a country with an all-powerful state, otherwise called Big Brother, characterised by a state-controlled economy with few monopolistic producers and controlled labour. Yet this is not what made Big Brother all-powerful. Two factors did.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Criminalising being poor

Why governance standards set in the West and imposed on poor countries are dangerous

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, a friend posted on a social media platform an article by a US scholar about life in a democracy and an autocracy as imagined by Americans! The author argues that the enjoyment of a fulfilling life is a much more complex matter to be reduced to whether one either lives under a democracy or an autocracy. He also argued that Americans imagine every country that is not a democracy is the worst version of an autocracy or totalitarian state of the Nazi type.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Our nation’s threatened middle

The challenges of being independent in Uganda’s increasingly polarised and toxic debates

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In March of this year, President Yoweri Museveni invited me to speak to National Resistance Movement (NRM) Members of Parliament (MPs) then on a retreat in Kyankwanzi. The day before I could travel there, one of the key organising persons called me. He said many MPs were bitterly protesting that an “enemy” has been invited to speak to them. He advised me to keep away.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The corruption of Uganda football

How the Cranes blundered in Cairo when they went on strike over pay and refused to train

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, the Uganda Cranes players went on strike in Cairo Egypt, where they were competing in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They accused officials of the Federation for Ugandan Football Association (FUFA) of plotting to cheat them of their bonuses for qualifying for the knockout stage of 16. Knowing the corruption that has eaten the entrails of our country’s moral fabric, I could not put FUFA above these accusations. I was therefore among those who tweeted highlighting the concerns of our players.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Uganda’s budget dilemma

How our government’s attempts to do too many things for all citizens spreads our meager resources too thin

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA |  Poor countries suffer a fundamental contradiction in both design and aspiration. The state is designed and thus seeks to perform functions exactly like states in rich countries. Citizens expect and politicians promise to provide free and universal healthcare, primary and in many cases secondary education, clean water, electricity, roads, agricultural extension services etc. These public goods and services are far beyond the classical functions of the state i.e. to provide law and order, infrastructure and the administration of justice.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The tyranny of expert advice

Why Africans need to look beyond the oversimplification of our development challenges

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, a member on a WhatsApp chat-group I belong to posted a video of a Singaporean professor explaining why that country transformed from a third world to a first world economy in a generation. The professor, Kishore Mahbubani, offers to give the “secret formula” behind this phenomenal success. It is an explanation a large section of global and African elites are always keen to embrace. This is driven in large part by belief that there is something wrong with our countries and political leaders.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The rise of Japan

What made this country transform rapidly from a backward agrarian society into a modern industrial power
The Independent | ANDREW M. MWENDA | How did Japan, a poor and economically “backward” country rapidly transform into a modern industry power a few years after its initial contact with the West? I promised to address this question last week. Japan opened up to the outside world in 1868 during what is called the Meiji Restoration. By 1895, i.e. within 25 years, it had become one of the leading global powers alongside Russia, France, UK, Austria, Prussia and USA. In 1905, it crushed the Russian navy in a decisive battle, becoming the first non-European country ever to defeat a major European power.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Uganda’s trending fashion

How popular sentiments have undermined our journalism and blinded our intellectuals from reality

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | It has become increasingly trendy and fashionable within certain sections of social media in Uganda to denounce President Yoweri Museveni. It does not matter what arguments one makes or evidence they adduce to back up their case or the values they stand for. It is just cool to accuse Museveni of looting and destroying Uganda. Many Ugandan journalists, intellectuals and pundits seeking popular validation of their ideas, afraid to be “misunderstood”, desperate for approval, or plainly emotional and ignorant, pander to popular sentiments in complete disregard of the facts.

Monday, June 17, 2019

ANALYSIS: Inspired by Japan

Where people, values, mentalities and habits create pure harmony

THE INDEPENDENT | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In February and March of this year, I visited Japan and travelled extensively across that country’s major cities – from Tokyo to Kyoto and Hiroshima to Osaka, the commercial capital of Japan. I was intrigued and impressed by the orderliness and cleanliness of the country. Many people argue that Kampala is dirty and disorganised because it is large; with many people (1.5 million) living in it. Osaka is a city of 19 million people (counting its entire urban area) while Tokyo is 14 million people. The streets of these cities remain spotless clean.

Museveni’s state of nation speech

Why, in spite of our continued poverty, there is good reason to celebrate our gains as we plan ahead

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, President Yoweri Museveni gave his State of the Nation (SOTN) speech. He gave interesting facts about Uganda’s economy, which many of our “intellectuals” deny. Between 1986 and 2015 (when I have reliable data), Uganda’s economy grew at an annual average rate of 6.92%. Given that population growth has been 3.3% over the same period, per capita output has grown at an average annual rate of 3.62%. This is an excellent performance by both contemporary and historical standards.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Uganda’s messiah complex

Inside our overblown expectations and the religious origins of our hopes and frustrations

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | In February, my mother (84) visited Germany. Driving from the airport to the city of Cologne, she was impressed by the highways, flyovers and majestic buildings of that country. My sister asked what she felt about these achievements of the German people and state. “Impressive,” my mother replied, “very impressive.” Then my sister asked how long she thought it would take Uganda to achieve such developmental results. My mum answered without any reservations: “If (President Yoweri) Museveni is given another 15 years, Uganda would surpass all this.”

Monday, June 3, 2019

Uganda and Rwanda’s slippery slope

Why the current situation between Kampala and Kigali needs to be deescalated before it leads to disaster
THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The conflict between Uganda and Rwanda is escalating and, if not arrested, will most likely lead to war. Last week, Uganda claimed that Rwandan troops had crossed into Uganda and shot two people dead. Rwanda said the incident took place on its soil. Given the circumstances, the facts do not really matter. In such tense situations, these incidents only provide propaganda value to partisans on each side to prove their side to be the aggrieved party.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Debunking Africa’s delusions

Why our everlasting obsession with the state, its leaders and politics as the problem is misguided

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | There is a near unanimous view that the problems of our nations in Sub Sahara Africa are a result of leaders, specifically our presidents. Others broaden this view arguing that our problems are a result of the state and its politics. To such analysts, the societies of Africa are capable of rapid economic transformation like in East Asia but are being stifled by corrupt and autocratic leaders and states.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A preliminary peep at 2021

The things opposition parties should ignore and those they need to focus on to have a chance in 2021

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The opinion poll by Research World International (RWI) found Kyadondo East Member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine (at 22%) far ahead of long-standing opposition leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye (at 13%). President Yoweri Museveni led the pack with 32%, but far below the 50% plus one he needs to win a first round. While this may be great for Bobi Wine, it has potential to be a risk to the opposition chances of beating Museveni in 2021. I will return to this subject towards the end of this article.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Uganda’s democratic contradiction

Why I think Museveni is a liberal democrat while Bobi Wine and Besigye are potential tyrants

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | Last week, police using heavy-handed methods stopped the MP for Kyadondo East, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, from holding a concert. Even President Yoweri Museveni agreed that the brutality police employed was uncalled for. To make a bad situation worse, the Uganda Communications Commission then ordered television stations to fire reporters, programmers and producers who were involved in the live coverage of this event.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The road to serfdom

How Ugandans have cultivated a mindset that is making them servants of foreigners in their own country

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | My friend Henry Mayanja left Uganda as a teenager and lived in the UK for 20 years. He worked for the UK government earning a salary and thinking he had made it. When he visited Uganda in 2011, he found some ordinary guy he left in Hima – uneducated, riding a bicycle and selling milk – a successful entrepreneur in Kampala with 24 lorries and investments in real estate. The guy explained to Henry that he had grown from the bicycle to a boda boda, to a small pickup, to the lorries.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Is Uganda’s debt sustainable?

How Prof Hyuha Mukwanason’s response to my article fails to move beyond abstract theoretical arguments

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | Prof Hyuha Mukwanason wrote in Daily Monitor of April 13 a 4,214 words-long article responding to my article published in The New Vision of January 21 (2,400 words). In his response, he purported to demonstrate that Uganda’s debt is unsustainable. Yet nowhere in that long article does he make any effort to meet this promise. Instead he went into a host of irrelevant theoretical abstractions about debt generally that have little or no relevance to Uganda’s actual debt situation, ironically the very issue he was criticising me for.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The fall of Omar Bashir

Why the Sudanese leader is a hero not a villain for nurturing the progressive forces that removed him

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Finally prolonged popular protests have brought down the 30 years long rule of Sudanese president, Gen. Omar Al Bashir. This was inspiring news for the Ugandan opposition who wish President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 33 years now, suffers a similar fate. Sadly, these wishes are unlikely to yield anything because actions, not wishes, are what really bring down governments. Most likely Sudan may provide Museveni an opportunity to look for ways to manage future uprisings better.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Japanese versus European colonialism

How Japanese colonialism in East Asia was transformative compared to its European counterpart in Africa
Kampala, Uganda | ANDREW M. MWENDA | I spent about ten days between late February and early March in Japan; talking to government officials, academics in universities, policy wonks in think tanks, tasting Japanese cuisine, visiting technology museums and art galleries.
I was intrigued that the Japanese do not want to speak about their role as colonisers because many of them think it was their nation at its worst.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our country’s misguided priorities

How the debate on Lubowa hospital exposes the self-indulgence of Ugandan elites and their poverty of ideas
Two weeks ago Uganda government approved $380m (or Shs1.4 trillion) to build an “international specialised hospital” in Lubowa. On the face of it, this is a great idea. It is prestigious for a poor country like Uganda to own a state-of-the-art hospital that can handle highly complex medical problems. Besides, if our country is to attract high-end tourism, it needs such a highly specialised hospital so that rich tourists can visit our country confident that in case of a medical emergency they can be handled.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Uganda’s storm in a teacup

How our MPs invented a scandal around Uganda Airlines’ shares and our chattering elites joined the chorus
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities,” Voltaire
Last week, our parliamentar- ians alleged that some unscrupulous ministers had stolen government shares in Uganda National Airlines Company Limited (UNACL) by registering them in their private names on the shares allotment form. A “vigilant” committee of parliament “unearthed” this fraud. Parliament went hysterical with the deputy speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, saying he would have fired the ministers if he were president. On traditional and social media, pundits outdid one another denouncing this blatant theft.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Uganda’s strategic dilemma Part3

Why Uganda’s economy is dominated by multinational capital and what cannot be done about it
So we come to our third and last instalment on how post-1986 Uganda cultivated groups and interests hostile to local firms. First to be discredited were local banks, followed by locally owned construction firms. They were accused of doing “shoddy work” at a high price. New procurement laws requiring international competitive bidding effectively locked them out of key contracts.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Uganda’s strategic dilemma Part2

Why Uganda’s economy is dominated by multinational capital and what cannot be done about it

We begin from where we stopped last week. Uganda’s growing economy served three critical purposes: It increased government revenues, gave greater confidence to donors to give more aid, and increased resources available to government to pay for patronage, provide basic public goods and services and fight armed insurgency thereby aiding legitimacy and political consolidation. Consequently, Museveni gradually shifted from implementing these reforms as an opportunistic beneficiary and became a believer in their efficacy.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Uganda’s strategic dilemma

Why Uganda’s economy is dominated by multinational capital and what cannot be done about it

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Uganda is facing a dilemma. The country is investing tens of billions of dollars in huge infrastructure projects – dams, airports, highways, bridges, railways, water systems etc. Many Ugandans are complaining that all the big contracts are won by foreign firms especially Chinese, who even bring their own workers and materials. They argue therefore that these investments bring little value to the citizens as local manufacturing and construction firms get little or nothing. Consequently, the debate on and demands for local content have become loud.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Rwanda-Uganda conflict

How Kampala has mismanaged her relations with Kigali and why Rwanda closed her border

Let me do what politicians always do – claim they run for office due to popular demand. Many people have been asking me to comment on the heightened tensions between Uganda and Rwanda. By writing this article, I am yielding to popular pressure. I think Uganda and Rwanda will most likely degenerate into war; something I have shared with friends since October last year and this is the reason it is critical that I share my views.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Fortune favours the bold

Why government of Uganda should heavily invest in Kiira Motors even in the face of many impediments
Uganda wants to manufacture cars. It doesn’t have any comparative advantage in this field. It does not produce iron ore from which to make steel, an important input into the car manufacturing industry. It is landlocked. It has no prior experience in manufacturing anything significant. And it is trying to do it using a state owned enterprise, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC), in a government riddled with corruption and incompetence.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Wrong thinking on health services

Why expecting a Ugandan peasant to have the same quality of healthcare as an American is madness

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, I attended the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)’s monthly State of the Nation seminar on public spending and governance on the health sector in Uganda. Like all such conferences on African issues, context is always missing. So we discuss the state’s ability to deliver public goods and services as if poor countries have the same resources – both human and financial – as rich nations.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Museveni’s AU speech

Why there is a big disconnect between Museveni the intellectual and Museveni the politician

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week, President Yoweri Museveni delivered an impressive speech to fellow African Union (AU) heads of state in Addis Ababa about the need for regional and continental integration. According to social media, the president even got a standing ovation. The speech was Musevenisque in its historical sweep, breadth of perspective, depth of analysis and strategic foresight. It showed how Museveni the politician contradicts Museveni the intellectual. It also proves that leaders are human – they have egos and other emotions that stand in the way of their strategic ambitions.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Impunity at Bank of Uganda

How institutional independence allowed the central bank to indulge in gross mismanagement and incompetence

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week was the most shameful for Bank of Uganda. During hearings before the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) it was exposed that BoU sold the assets and liabilities of the now defunct Crane Bank Limited (CBL) irregularly in blatant violation of the law.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Michela Wrong’s war on Kagame

How racial prejudice led The Guardian to publish an article that is basically a hit job on Rwanda

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On January 14, The Guardian newspaper in England published a 5,800 word long article by Michela Wrong titled “Rwanda’s Kashogi.” It accused President Paul Kagame of Rwanda of complicity in the murder of former Rwandan spy chief, Patrick Karegyeya. Wrong makes no effort to substantiate her claims with even the most rudimentary evidence. She relied on a litany of rumours.

Monday, January 28, 2019

URA’s unnecessary headquarters

Why government of Uganda’s approach of owning buildings to save on rent is economically unproductive

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Last week President Yoweri Museveni officially opened the new Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) head office building in Nakawa. As a work of art, the building is majestic. As a source of national pride, it is inspiring. At 22 floors high it is the tallest building in Kampala, a beautiful piece of architecture that improves our city’s skyline. But as an economic investment, the building is a disaster.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Uganda’s growing public debt

PUBLIC DEBT: Why is it growing? Is it prohibitive, unsustainable?

Kampala, Uganda | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On January 10, I watched with increasing depression a debate about Uganda’s national debt on the NBS Frontline show. Although the Minister of State for Finance, David Bahati, made many good arguments in defence of government, his delivery was not effective.

The value of loyalty

The value of loyalty: What the story of a simple attendant at a fuel station can help us learn about building successful organisations

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On Tuesday January 8, 2019 I passed a Total service station in Luzira to load Mobile Money. Because there was no V-Power Petrol on all Shell stations in Kampala and I had a few minutes to spare, I decided to ask a fuel attendant at this Total station, a one Vincent Komakech, whether their fuel is fit for my car.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Museveni’s land politics

Why the president’s defence of squatters is humane but economically retrogressive

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | During his New Year speech, President Yoweri Museveni reiterated his commitment to defend squatters being evicted by “land grabbers”. Yet he also promised to protect the ownership rights of title holders. In trying to please both, Museveni may be doing good politics but it is bad economics. Here is why.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Museveni and African hairstyles

Why the President’s emphasis on hairstyles to assert the African identity addresses the form and ignores the substance
THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | On December 30, 2018, President Yoweri Museveni tweeted thanking Miss World Africa, Quiin Abenakyo, for heeding his “advice” to keep her hair “natural”. Museveni claimed that this asserts her “African identity”. “God beautifully created Africans and there is no need to add or subtract anything,” the President tweeted.