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

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Rwanda’s biggest brand problem

FILE PHOTO: President Paul Kagame delivers his inaugural speech August 18, 2017. PHOTO FLickr.com/paulkagame

How and why Kagame’s enemies have been successful at branding him a tyrant

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | I asked a young friend to visit Rwanda and assess the state of the country. He returned last week completely mesmerised at how a poor country can have such excellent infrastructure, a well-organised and clean environment beyond his imagination. However, and like so many people who visit that country, he came with that hackneyed claim that Rwandans are not free. I asked him how he established this. He said he could feel it in the air. I asked him if he had asked any Rwandan how he/she felt. He said he had not because he didn’t have to. “They seemed too afraid for me to even ask”. It was clear to me that this is something he has always heard in some circles in Uganda and the international press.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

The fall and fall of the FDC

Lessons for NUP from the continuing crisis in Uganda’s previously largest opposition political party

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) continues to tear itself apart. This is perhaps the final phase of the party’s existence. When time comes to write its postmortem, what would have been the causes of its demise? For we must remember that FDC was born of high ideals: to promote democratic values, to fight for honest government, to nurture tolerance of differing views, etc. The party has failed on each one of these aspirations.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The real threat to liberalism

President Vladmir Putin

Why democracy crusaders should worry less about Putin and more about its home front, the West

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, the liberal democracies of the West have been on a “moral” crusade against President Vladmir Putin. According to them, Putin is a tyrant, a dictator, a despot, a murderer and corrupt. Meanwhile, Ukraine is a “liberal democracy” whose success threatens to set a bad example for Putin. Never mind that before this invasion, many Western media, including Time, did documentaries on Ukraine showing that the government in Kiev is controlled by neo-Nazis. Adolf Hitler must be smiling in his grave (if there is one) at this irony.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Bobi Wine’s misleading resurgence

Bobi wine while in Luweero. Photo via @HEBobiwine

Why the big crowds at his rallies are misleading indicators of actual voter behavior at the ballot box

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | As expected, police have “suspended” the countrywide mobilistion tour by Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. After pulling large crowds across the country, I am sure government got scared. I am sure that even this scare is partly misguided but also partly a result of NRM’s lack of a strategic response. Therefore, from thence henceforth, Bobi Wine’s movements will be closely monitored and restricted. Police will look for every flimsy excuse to stop him in order to contain the growth in his popularity. Yet in trying to stop him, police will give him extra publicity for his cause and help him grow. This is a classic Catch 22 situation.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

“Jason’s law on corruption”


ANOTHER COUP: In practically every country where there was a change of government via a military coup, a popular uprising, an election upset or via an armed insurgency, the newcomers accused incumbents of corruption, dictatorship, tribalism and economic mismanagement.

How governance in Africa reflects structural imperatives, not the personalities of our leaders

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Recently, someone posted an article on our WhatsApp chatgroup about the persistence of “corruption” in Africa. It said on June 13, 1988, Pini Jason Onyegbaduo, a popular Nigerian columnist, propounded a “Hypothesis of Corruption.” In it, he argued that Africans are roughly bifurcated into two: the “ruling wicked; and the “waiting wicked.” Apparently, Onyegbaduo’s article led to his thesis being named `Jason’s Law of Corruption’ (JLC).

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A fresh look at coups in Africa

Ali Bongo of Gabon is now under house arrest. VIDEO GRAB

Why the Gabon coup is a wake-up call to intellectuals in Africa to rethink politics on the continent

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | There has been yet another a successful military coup in Africa, this time in Gabon. This is a country that has not known a military coup in all its history. It has been under a family dynasty for 56 years. The coup in Gabon follows one in Niger and before that, others in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Sudan, Mali, CAR, Sudan, Zimbabwe etc. And it will not be the last.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Meet the secular mujahedeen


The transformation of democracy from a political form to a religious movement

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |  Last week, I had an encounter with a democracy jihadist called Jeffrey Smith during a debate on Twitter (X) Spaces. The next day, he took to Twitter (X) accusing me of supporting despotism in Uganda. Smith, a white American, thinks he cares more about freedom in Uganda than me. Never mind his fellow black American citizens, after 300 years of slavery and another 100 years under apartheid now live under a regime of mass incarceration. There are more blacks in American jails than in college. This is not to mention native Americans who suffered genocide under America’s “democracy,” and today live in native reserves considered “dependent nations” without any constitutional guarantees but as wards of congress.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Uganda, gays, and the World Bank


How our prejudices have combined with an exhausted government to create a disaster for our country

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda |  The mighty World Bank has suspended all new loan applications to Uganda for passing the anti-homosexuality act. The law is primitive. I feel ashamed to be a citizen of a country that passes such barbaric legislation against a community for being who they are. Yet, although I am a defender of gay (and all other human) rights in Uganda, I do not agree this struggle needs foreign assistance in form of money, lectures and threats. As I have argued in this column for decades now, these foreign intrusions into our domestic affairs are often more harmful than helpful.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Respect the coup in Niger

The most likely costs and consequences of attempts by the international community to impose a political solution on any country

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Africa seems to be going back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s when military coups and civil wars were a regular occurrence in many countries on the continent. Since 2013, we have experienced eleven successful military coups: in Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso (two in 2022 alone), Mauritania, CAR, Zimbabwe, Guinea and most recently in Niger. There has also been a non-military self-coup in Tunisia. Over the same period, Africa has experienced 29 attempted coups. We have also witnessed the breakout or continuation of civil wars in Libya, DRC, Mozambique, Libya, CAR, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Mali, Cameroun and since 2019, the resurgence of Al Shabab in Somalia as a formidable fighting force after having been degraded by the UPDF between 2012 and 2019.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

On Uganda’s political development

FILE PHOTO: President Yoweri Museveni

Why I believe that Museveni would make a strategic partner in negotiating political reform

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | Last week, I argued that political development and democratic progress in Uganda have been held back by the attitude of the opposition towards President Yoweri Museveni. It is true Museveni has often employed brutal methods to retain his power by repressing opposition to his rule. But this has been a secondary strategy of last resort. For the most part, Museveni has used persuasion and cooptation (patronage/bribery) to consolidate his power. But as his popularity and therefore credibility and legitimacy have waned, his reliance on patronage has grown in tandem with a tendency to resort to repression to hold the smoldering edifice of his system together.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

The tragedy of Uganda’s opposition

Besigye and Bobi Wine in talks early this year.

Why our country needs creative politicians who can sequence ultimate goals and penultimate aims

THE LAST WORD | Andrew M. Mwenda | The opposition in Uganda claim to have a broad strategic objective: to end dictatorship, incompetence, corruption, human rights abuses and build political institutions and implement public policies that can create a politically democratic and economically prosperous country. They have set the removal of President Yoweri Museveni from power as the first step to achieving that goal. Over the years, however, this first step of their struggle has become so consuming that they have lost sight of their main aim. Today, the removal of Museveni has become an end in itself.