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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Uganda’s pursuit of modernity

Why every modern asset should be respected for its functionality and not merely its symbolism

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW MWENDA | Whatever its critics say, capitalism remains the most consequential system (and ideology) of organising human affairs in history. Born in Western Europe, it has spread across the world, as Karl Marx predicted, through the continual process of destruction and replacement of precapitalist social structures. Except for North Korea that is holding out against its power and allure, the rest of the world is hooked onto capitalism – including Cuba that is now embracing it, albeit slowly. Of course, in many parts of the world, some traditional structures have proved obdurate.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The real problem with Vinci

The power, influence, exorbitant dubious deals and the inevitably coming fall of Enrica Pinetti

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA |  There is a fundamental problem with Enrica Pinetti, the “foreign investor” behind the controversial Vinci Coffee Company. She is also the promoter of Lubowa Hospital. She has been given contracts to build some roads without any competitive bidding. Pinetti seems to enjoy the confidence of President Yoweri Museveni. But rather than use such an asset reasonably, Pinetti negotiates deals that are harmful to the Ugandan taxpayer. But worse still and as a consequence, she has a habit of arrogantly dealing with public officials and agencies that provide oversight on government contracts. She hurls insults and abuses at them, treating them as a house helps. Consequently, she (for now) seems above the law.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The real problem of Uganda

Educated Ugandans can’t see they don’t need a perfect policy environment to become prosperous

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | There are two suffocating beliefs among the vast majority of educated Ugandans. The first is that a university degree (does not) just provide someone an opportunity to search and compete for a secure well-paying job but that it guarantees (or should guarantee) such a job. Hence it does not matter whether the person concerned has the requisite skills that are demanded by employers; what matters is the piece of paper out of a university.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Aiding the enemy

How US involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict is helping the rise of China to surpass America as the world’s leading power

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies, the biggest beneficiary will not be the USA and her satellites but China. Russia is not America’s peer competitor because of its declining population, limited technological innovation and small GDP ($1.7 trillion against America’s $23 trillion). However, China performs almost as well, and in some cases better, on all three elements of national power. As China continues to grow, the issue will be how it will behave and how the USA will respond. Some argue that growing interdependence of China and USA undermines potential for a conflict between them. But I think a serious rivalry between them is hard to avoid.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

A frank memo to our wannabes

Why Oulanyah’s evacuation to Seattle was not a waste of taxpayers’ money

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On April 8, former Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, was finally laid to rest. But all will remember a group of wannabe Ugandans demonstrating outside a Seattle Hospital against his medical evacuation. To some Ugandans, it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to try save his life.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Behind DRC entry into the EAC

How Museveni’s and Kagame’s military adventures have contributed more to regional integration than summits of heads of state

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On March 29, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) joined the East African community (EAC). This brings the number of members from the original three to seven. On the same day, M23 rebels attacked a Congolese military base near Bunagana, Uganda’s border post with DRC. The UPDF engaged the rebels and arrested some of them. It was another reminder that peace in our region remains fragile. Yet the irony is that more than peace, it is conflict in the DRC that has driven her integration into the EAC.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

In memory of Jacob Oulanyah

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On Sunday March 20th, speaker of parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, succumbed to a terminal illness in a hospital in Seattle – three days shy of his 57th birthday. He had been fighting for his life for over nine months. Outside, a crowd of wannabe Ugandans in America were demonstrating against his hospitalization abroad, insisting that government was wasting money to save his life. What has become of us? Many Ugandans believe such advanced and specialized medical services should be available in the country and should be provided for free to all citizens by the government. This is a level of thoughtlessness that is difficult to fathom.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Behind the Russia-Ukraine conflict

 Why the U.S should beware of the law of unintended consequences

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | There is a huge misunderstanding of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many people see it as an unprovoked act of aggression by a megalomaniacal President Vladmir Putin against a small neighbor. Yet Moscow has been lured into this invasion by the rich and powerful Western nations led by the USA. This is a war between Russia and USA/NATO, Ukraine is only a playing field. NATO nations have one of greatest advantage in any war – absolute control of the instruments of mass propaganda. Anyone following international news channels now is fed on a biased menu of anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda presented as news.

Monday, March 14, 2022

On Mao’s Twitter war

How the radical extremism of NUP is the best recruiting ground for Museveni

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The current Twitter war by Nobert Mao against the radical extremists of NUP is a manifestation of the major pitfalls that have bedeviled the opposition in Uganda. Slowly, these radicals are pushing Mao directly into President Yoweri Museveni’s embrace. This is because NRM, in spite of its one million and one authoritarian tendencies, has demonstrated it is a very accommodating political organisation. Mao will, ultimately, join a long list of opposition heavyweights that have realised, to their painful disappointment, that the forces that have organised to fight and remove Museveni are equally the most politically intolerant.

Monday, March 7, 2022

The Ukraine tragedy

How America is dragging the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation in a matter of no strategic interest to it

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Western media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been propagandistic. It demonstrates that they are not independent as they claim. Instead, they are mouthpieces of their governments. How else can they fail to hold their governments to account for dragging Ukraine to war?

Monday, February 28, 2022

BOU’s Crane Bank disaster

Why those who thought they were above the law will soon realise that this is not the case

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On February11, businessman Sudhir Ruparelia won yet another victory in the Supreme Court against Bank of Uganda over the fate of Crane Bank.

The central bank closed Crane Bank in October 2016 claiming it was undercapitalised. The latest ruling is a culmination of a running battle between the central bank and Sudhir for four years. The Supreme Court ruled that Crane Bank should revert to Sudhir and asked BOU to pay the costs. So far it is estimated the costs of the trial from the High Court through the Court of Appeal up to the Supreme Court amounts to Shs 200 billion.

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Uganda-DRC case

How the ruling against Uganda presents Africa a golden opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of ICJ

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Uganda for “looting” (among other crimes) the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be celebrated across Africa, Latin America and those nations of Asia and Oceania that were colonised. It has set an important precedent that, although unlikely to bear fruit, provides considerable grist for the demand-for-reparations mill. It will also help expose the court’s role in protecting the interests of the powerful against those of the weak.

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Museveni-Mutebile conundrum

Why their opposing views still represent the ideological contention over Uganda’s destiny

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The memorial service of deceased central bank governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, provided a rare glimpse into the ideological contests that shaped the nature of the economy of present-day Uganda. President Museveni said he had been misled by Mutebile to privatize Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB). Instead, he said, he should have listened to Ezra Suruma, then the bank’s Managing Director, who had argued passionately that the bank remains in the hands of the state of Uganda.

Monday, February 7, 2022

America’s reckless bullying

How Washington’s disregard of Russia’s security concerns risks war over a misguided obsession with liberal democracy

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | The crisis in Ukraine is threatening world peace. Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border. America and her NATO allies claim it intends to invade and occupy that country. So they are sending arms to Ukraine and mobilising forces to deter any such move. Russia claims its intention is to deter America from integrating Ukraine into NATO. Whoever has studied war knows it is characterised by extreme uncertainty. Any miscommunication or misinformation or miscalculation can lead to a conflagration. Given the nuclear arsenals of the USA and Russia, if war broke out no part of the globe can escape its consequences. That is why the crisis over Ukraine should capture the attention of all of us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Mutebile, the passing of a giant

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | At exactly 5.30am on Sunday morning January 23rd 2022, the governor of the Bank of Uganda, Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, breathed his last in a Nairobi hospital. He had been battling illness for several years. While Mutebile’s body has died, his deeds will continue to live in the memory of those he impacted and in the consequences of his decisions and actions. This is because at the end of our lives, a question stands: what did you do with your life? For many, a good and fulfilling life is service to themselves and their families. For others, a life well lived is a balance between the personal and the community. Mutebeli balanced the two very well.

Monday, January 24, 2022

On 36 years of Museveni

Why his stabilising the political dispensation and sustaining economic growth is important

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On January 26, President Yoweri Museveni and NRM will mark 36 years in power. His is third longest serving presidency in Africa today, and one of the longest in the post-World War Two world. What is his legacy?

Monday, January 17, 2022

Africa’s politics of fiction

It is incredible how politics in our part of the world is far removed from reality

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | What determines the governance strategies elites employ in any given country? The philosopher, Karl Marx, argued that the way people organise themselves to solve their basic economic challenges (how to clothe, house and feed themselves) requires a “superstructure” of non economic activity and thought (governance). The superstructure cannot be picked randomly. It must reflect the foundation on which it is raised.   For Marx, therefore, no hunting community could evolve or use the legal framework of an industrial society and similarly, no industrial society could use the conception of law and government of a primitive hunting village.

Monday, January 10, 2022

UPDF, the DRC and the ADF war

Why it’s about hearts and minds; not bullets

COVER STORY | ANDREW M MWENDA | Kambi ya Yua is an eight-acre hill site in the middle of a jungle that runs for over 100km from Uganda deep into inside of the DR Congo. It has no neighbouring human settlement, no access road, no open space. It is one of the places still eluding civilization and it is inconceivable that human beings would live and survive there. Flying by helicopter from Fort Portal to Kambi ya Yua takes only 30 minutes; from Semuliki Bridge (a UPDF forward operating base inside DRC) to the place takes only about ten minutes.