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
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
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
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.
Friday, 14 February 2014 11:15
By Andrew M. Mwenda
Wrong regional integration and why small should be the new big thing for East Africa
Africa is obsessed with regional, political, and economic integration. Over the last 30 years, our governments have created many regional trade blocks; some of which overlap. For example, Uganda is a member of the EAC, PTA, COMESA and KBO while Tanzania belongs to all these and SADC.
These trade blocks are intended to lead to a political and economic union – a super-state on a regional and later continental scale. Although fashionable, this trend will in the long term do more harm than good.
Consider the proposal for an East African political federation. It has many obvious advantages: it could bolster the economic and military position of the region and provide a large geographical area and population for trade.
Saturday, 08 February 2014 09:11
By Andrew M. Mwenda
The current political system based on patronage has developed a vast array of vested interests with a stake in its perpetuation
Acommon narrative holds that President Yoweri Museveni enjoys unlimited power in Uganda and that this is a major source of our nation’s problems. This view seems self-evident. He has ruled for 28 years. On the face of it, he seems to have effective control over the ruling party, the army and the security services, and has appointed every government official of high rank and presides over our nation like the proverbial colossus. I have increasingly grown to realise that this view is a myth that ignores how actual political power in Uganda is organised, distributed, exercised, and reproduced.
Why supporting Salva Kiir may turn out to be Museveni’s most ill-advised military intervention
The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) recent military adventure into South Sudan follows a pattern that has made our country a regional military hegemon and our president, one of Africa’s most influential presidents. Our armies (or their offshoots) now stand guard from the Gulf of Eden (Somalia) on the Indian Ocean to Kinshasa on the Atlantic Ocean. Museveni can now project power from Bor in South Sudan to Eastern DRC. With Rwandan troops (an off-shoot of UPDF) in Central Africa Republic and Joseph Kabila’s army (an off-shoot of Rwanda) in charge of all the Congo, President Yoweri Museveni has overtaken Julius Nyerere as Africa’s most militarily interventionist president.
Museveni’s biggest problem has been to overpromise and under-deliver hence the recurrent frustrations of his utopian supporters
This week, President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) will be celebrating 28 years in government. In a moving inaugural speech in January 1986, he promised that “This is not a mere change of guard but a fundamental change in the politics of our country.”
Everything Museveni said on that day had been said by very many African leaders when coming to power – whether it was a nationalist politician receiving instruments of government from a departing colonial power, a politician who had defeated an incumbent government or a military officer who had staged a successful coup. Yet there was a tendency to present Museveni’s statements as new and original. A myth was created that he was exceptional.
Saturday, 18 January 2014 09:01
By Andrew M.Mwenda
Understanding the popularity of Museveni and Besigye through evolutionary science
To understand the incentives that drive citizens who vote and the politicians who seek their votes, we may need to appreciate the lessons of evolutionary psychology especially in regard to male-female sexual relations. (I am sorry for gay couples as this theory may not apply to them). Men want sex from