Uganda: Govt Cracks the Whip On Entertainers

Uganda's musician and lawmaker Bobi Wine on stage at his Kyarenga concert on November 10, 2018 (file photo).
17 January 2019

Kampala — The government through the Ministry of Gender has moved to tighten regulations for entertainers, drawing condemnation from a cross-section of them.

During a consultative meeting with artistes at the Gender ministry headquarters, officials from the ministry said while over the years the industry has developed and created opportunities, it has been unregulated, hence prone to abuse.

However, most of the artistes who attended the meeting refused to sign the attendance list, reasoning that government would use the list to mean acceptance of the regulations.

Among the contentious issues is the demand that government will issue licence to all artistes, film makers and theatre practitioners that wish to stage or perform in public places in and outside Uganda.

The artistes also got more worried when the government moved to ban use of vulgar words, without clearly defining the word.

However, the minister said: "there is a lot of suspicion but we are only trying to regulate and make the industry better."

"The industry is operating on regulations that were made in 1943, yet, new things have come and need regulations," Ms Peace Mutuuzo, State Minister for Gender and Culture, said at the ministry offices in Kampala on Tuesday evening.

Regulation time

The regulations come at a time when government has complained about artistes using music for political gains.

Mr Robert Kyagulanyi's shows have been blocked by the police on several occasions in the recent past over his political stance.

Ms Mutuuzo said setting regulations is their way of streamlining the industry and thus making it favourable for all artistes especially the rising talents that cannot compete favourably in the current situation.

While presenting the regulations, Juliana Naumo, Commissioner for Culture and Family Affairs at the ministry, said artistes will have to sign a code of conduct that prohibits consumption of intoxicants before a performance, indecent dressing and have only one performance per day. The regulation also bars artists from using vulgar word.

An artist who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, wondered how the word vulgar will be defined and what parameters will it be used to determine whose performance are vulgar. He said this regulation is intended to stop artistes who criticise government on bad governance.

"Who knows an artiste will lose a license for 'vulgar' lyrics that criticise the government," he said.

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