How About a Free Press to Hold Aid to Africa Accountable?

Courageous independent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda was featured in a mass circulation magazine last weekend, getting some well-deserved recognition. mwenda.JPG

Mwenda has been in and out of jail for his criticism of the (aid-supported) authoritarian Ugandan government. He was a recipient of the International Press Freedom Award for 2008.

Mwenda started his own independent newspaper (known appropriately as the Independent) in Uganda, after complaining the government was curtailing the freedom of the newspaper where he previously worked.

He also is a frequent critic of aid agencies’ operations in Africa for tolerating corruption and poor results, which caused Bono to heckle him in a famous confrontation at the TED conference in Tanzania in 2007.

A free press is an important way in which we hold our governments accountable in rich democratic countries. Why shouldn’t Africans have the right to freedom of the press as well?

Mwenda will be speaking at the NYU conference “What Would the Poor Say? Debates in Aid Evalution” this Friday, February 6.