“We live in a society that worships money but do not use money to define what success is,” senior journalist Andrew Mwenda stated while labouring to explain his soft stance towards the reigning government.
Mwenda was addressing students during a Career Day event held at the Jinja road based Victoria University on May 28, 2016.
“Material possessions are not the key to success,” the journalist said, elaborating that success and fulfilment in life can come from pursuing a career, a sport or finding love for one’s family.
Mwenda said, for example, his ultimate goal is to influence the way people think and change the bandwagon trend of catching the passing fancy and passing it as “absolute truth”.
“I have a problem with established truths or what society presents as the absolute truths. I find myself disagreeing with contemporary ideas.”
Mwenda thus explained that his pursuit in life was not money comparing himself to President Yoweri Museveni whose ultimate goal is to attain and retain power.
“Everything Mr Museveni does is aimed at achieving power or holding it a little longer. Money may not be his end goal. He sees it as a means to political power.”
Mwenda who denies setting out to mass wealth, says at first he was vehemently opposed to Museveni but after doing research, he ended up being angry with himself.
“Don’t do research…because it will change the way you used to look at things and completely affect your perception of life. Leave alone our opposition that just talks without evidence or researched data.”
“Museveni bribed me with success”
“When I hear the opposition saying Museveni bribed me, I say ‘yes, he bribed me with success not money’,” Mwenda pointed out.
The worst critic of Museveni, Mwenda over the years gradually turned into the champion of the ruling government, taking sides with its foibles despite criticism.
He explains: “I have a team of researchers, the best in the world. I asked them to do research comparing development over the last 50 years in the 195 countries of the world.”
Mwenda says what he found out was mind-boggling.
Uganda was ranked among 11 fastest growing economies in Africa.
“When we removed oil producing countries, Uganda was among the 7 fastest growing economies on the continent,” Mwenda said, his face beaming with awe.
The journalist then ordered his team to research on the much criticised health system but what he discovered changed the way he perceived Museveni.
He said Uganda topped the continent with the fastest evolving and best health systems.
“But remember I perceived Museveni as someone who is obsessed with power. Now what do you do with such facts after doing research?” he threw the question to the audience.
Mwenda concluded that while opposition criticises the president without any facts or evidence to back their claims, Museveni has transformed the Ugandan economy in the shortest time possible.
When a participant questioned him on corruption in Museveni’s government, Mwenda said there is no evidence that corruption impedes economic growth.
“Recently, I said that corruption does not stop development and the country nearly hanged me. I have read economic histories of superpowers like America and China. These countries have corruption but the rate of development, for example, in China, is amazing.”
He agreed corruption impacts the economy both positively and negatively but should not be used as an excuse for retarded economic development.
Museveni should retire?
In his article, “Why Museveni should retire” published on May 30, 2016, in The Independent Magazine, Mwenda says in leaving power, the president would cause Ugandans to re-evaluate his legacy with better perspective.
Mwenda said the NRM-dominated parliament will amend the constitution to remove the age limit on the presidency so that Museveni can run in 2021 and so will Dr. Kizza Besigye.
“For Museveni, the ideal outcome is an election where Besigye wins and the president concedes peacefully and hands over power (and I hope no one witch hunts him and his family). This would be Museveni’s greatest moment, a triumph of vision over fear.”
He said it would be then that Besigye would realise Museveni’s intentions were never to ruin Uganda.
Mwenda says with Besigye as president, economic growth would slow down due to international conditions and be accentuated by parliamentary gridlock hence reducing government revenues.
“Therefore, anger against President Besigye would mount. It is in these chaotic circumstances that many Ugandans would begin to re-evaluate Museveni’s record. Many would realise that he was not such a bad guy after all.”