Sunday 20th of April 2014 08:43:30 AM

You buy the Truth, we pay the Price

Sunday, 13 April 2014 06:50 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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Why it has been important that Rwandans and not the international community ended the genocide

On Monday, Rwanda commemorated 20 years since the genocide against the Tutsi. It was an inspiring event because Rwanda has astounded admirers and critics alike. In little less than two decades, it has moved from a failed state with a collapsed economy and a broken society to one of the most successful countries in economic growth-rates, state reconstruction endeavors and social and political reconciliation.

However, this story has been a sub theme in the international (read western) media. For here, a section of journalists, pundits, experts and “experts” have been arguing that Rwanda is a failed or failing experiment. Rwanda, they argue, is a “police state” that is suppressing freedom of speech and hunting and killing political enemies abroad. While bemoaning their failure to intervene militarily to stop the carnage in 1994, they now think they should intervene diplomatically to save Rwanda from its accomplishments and impose their own version of success.

Sunday, 06 April 2014 12:52 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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Why Uganda should move away from a winner-take-all electoral system in favour of proportional representation

I argued in last week’s column that in Uganda’s specific context of mass poverty, electoral competition tends to eliminate public-spirited candidates (or patriots) in favour of crooks. Therefore as our democracy deepens, the share of crooks in parliament will consistently increase at the expense of patriots. Indeed, many patriots will turn to crooked methods to remain in politics. Rather than democracy producing accountability, it is actually producing government by theft.

Saturday, 29 March 2014 20:58 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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Why parliament will either increase its term of office from five to seven years or raise its wages threefold

Some Members of Parliament have proposed that their term be extended from five to seven years. This proposal is going to gain momentum. If it is not adopted by the current parliament, the next one will. It is almost inevitable that MPs increase the number of years of an elected term, or double or even triple their wages. This is because the consolidation of electoral competition has gone hand in glove with the commercialisation of politics.

Having been to India, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Malawi, Zambia and Kenya and witnessed first hand the similarities in the way democratic politics is organised along similar lines, I am inclined to present this problem as a structural one. Electoral competition in poor countries tends to increase corruption and undermine the ability of parliament to exercise oversight on the executive.

Saturday, 22 March 2014 20:23 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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History shows it was inevitable Mbabazi would fall on the sword of `sole’ candidate-culture

In 1965, then opposition MPs introduced a motion on the floor of the National Assembly to repeal the Deportation Ordinance. This was a draconian colonial law that allowed the state to deport, to a remote party of the country, anyone who gave government a headache through political agitation. Many Ugandans fighting for independence would be deported from Kampala to then-remote areas like Kisoro, Karamoja or Arua.

The motion was debated in parliament at the beginning of February 1966. UPC’s Secretary General, Grace Ibingira, convinced many UPC and KY members not to support it. When the vote was finally called, the motion was lost; Ibingira had won the day and the opposition were leaking their wounds in defeat.

Saturday, 15 March 2014 18:45 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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Although NRM seems to be in disarray, there appears to be nowhere to turn for an alternative

Last week, the wrangles inside the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), hit an all-time high. Mrs. Jacqueline Mbabazi, the chairperson of the party’s Women’s League said NRM had been taken over by fascists who are now witch-hunting her husband, the party’s Secretary General and our nation’s Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi. This is the second time a top serving NRM leader gives us their view of the quality of persons in charge of our country. The first time was in 2005 when then Vice President Gilbert Bukenya said the party was controlled by a mafia. Incidentally, Mbabazi was among people Bukenya accused of being part of the mafia. Is the current factional infighting within NRM between the mafia and the fascists?

There was a grain of truths in Mrs. Mbabazi’s accusations. Youthful NRM Members of Parliament (MPs) were let loose on Mbabazi. During an NRM Caucus meeting at State House Entebbe, these youthful MPs were yelling at their party’s SG and our nation’s Prime Minister as if he was a little schoolboy or a common criminal. They shouted him down and literally read him the riot act. I have never understood practical politics or the internal dynamics of NRM. But I feel that whatever wrong Mbabazi did, treating him with such levels of disrespect given his seniority in the party and country was beneath contempt. It sets a stage on how even leaders like President YoweriMuseveni would be treated were he to lose power.

Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:41 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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How the two leaders faced a dilemma of transcending their prejudices to make history and how each reacted

On Sunday while browsing television channels at home, I chanced upon the movie, Lincoln. It is an amazing film about how US President Abraham Lincoln pushed through Congress the 13th Amendment that ended slavery. During the debate, white supremacists defend slavery by arguing that black people are not equal to whites. They challenge supporters of the amendment to defend racial equality knowing that doing so before a white electorate, convinced of its racial superiority, was political suicide.

Throughout the debate, nature, religion and culture are brought in to defend slavery and racial discrimination. White supremacists argue that it is “against the order of nature” for white people to sit at the same table, leave alone have sex, with black people. They bring forth evidence from the Bible to justify their racism. They also argue that racial equality is against “American values.”

Thursday, 27 February 2014 11:27 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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Why the anti homosexuality law is most likely going to be used for political rather than moral reasons

Finally President Yoweri Museveni has “yielded” to the advice of “our scientists” to sign the anti homosexual bill. Most Ugandan elites who were cheering him on social media missed the entire purpose of the circus in Kyankwazi. The NRM MPs, in exchange for Museveni’s acceptance to sign the bill, “urged” him to stand for yet another term – unopposed. This is the kind of bargaining that democratic politics is made of. However, the supporters of this law, who are the vast majority of Ugandans, do not appreciate the danger they are courting giving the state such powers.

Although the law is written to prosecute homosexuals, its actual application is most likely going to be persecution of political opponents. Sex is a very private activity – normally not done in public view.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 15:00 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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The US President’s letter to his Ugandan counterpart was the trigger that could have forced Museveni into singing the anti gay bill

On February 24, 2014, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda signed into law a bill mandating gays to be sentenced to life in prison for being who they are. It was a tragic but equally illuminating moment for Uganda and its relations with its Western “allies”. Museveni had been reluctant to sign the bill until US President Barak Obama sent him a toughly worded letter literally ordering him not to and even threatening consequences if he did. Watching Museveni speak to the press before a publically televised signing of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (AHB), I felt sympathetic to him even though I disagreed with his action. I have since joined other Ugandans in petitioning against this law in the Constitutional Court. However, I also felt that if I was in his shoes, I would also have probably acted as he did.

Friday, 21 February 2014 11:43 By Andrew M. Mwenda
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What the humiliation of Mbabazi at Kyankwanzi portends for the succession of Museveni in NRM and Uganda

Last week, the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) was forced to sign a resolution saying that President Yoweri Museveni will be the “sole” presidential candidate of the party.

The ambush and capitulation of Mbabazi at a retreat of NRM’s parliamentary caucus in Kyankwanzi opened doors for the amendment of the constitution to remove term limits. And more than that, it also set in motion a process that is most likely going to bolster chances of a family succession in Uganda.

History unfolds in ways that even major actors in it cannot predict or even intend to. For example, many of those who signed the resolution may have done so out of very short-term political, career, financial and other considerations. However, the long-term effect of this decision may be more than they bargained for. For example, this resolution, which was clearly aimed at nipping in the bud real and/or perceived ambitions of Mbabazi to succeed Museveni, may equally have destroyed the last credible alternative to the President in NRM. Without such an alternative, the door is open for a family succession.


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