Uganda: Separate Music From Politics, Museveni Tells Ugandan Artistes

President Yoweri Museveni.

Kampala — President Museveni has said he will not tolerate music shows that are laced with politics and warned that in future nobody will be compensated for shows that have been cancelled because of politics.

The President made the warning during a meeting with members of Uganda Music Promoters and Venue Owners Network at State House, where he gave them Shs2 billion as compensation for losses they suffered after police cancelled music concerts of artiste Bobi Wine, who is also the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament, on account that his songs contained political activism.

"The President is concerned about harmful music shows that he told us to avoid. He also made it clear that politics in some shows will not be tolerated and warned that he will not compensate anyone in future whose show will be cancelled because of politics," Tonny Ssempijja, the coordinator of Uganda Music Promoters and Venue Owners Network, said on Saturday.

He said their State House meeting last Tuesday was intended to fight for the rights of promoters and that before meeting the President, they had several engagements with Gen Salim Saleh, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and other leaders.

He said the President promised to take their association members for military training at Kyankwanzi in June and thereafter issue them walkie talkies to streamline their tasks.

The cash and other donations from the President came at a time when some promoters, such as Mr Yasin Kaweesa and Mr Ema Serugo, lost their property to money lenders. The two were some of the promoters who hired Bobi Wine for the Kyarenga concerts which were cancelled by police.

"This is our business, like others go to China to import, we buy music from artistes with good hits," Mr Ssempijja said.

The 'presidential handshake' was communicated during a meeting at State House on Tuesday.

Sources close to the meeting on Saturday said the President met various artistes and promoters after cries of losses that they incurred after cancellation of different Bobi Wine's Kyarenga music concerts in various parts in the country last year.

The artistes and promoters contacted Gen Salim Saleh who coordinated the meeting with the President through Mr Ssempijja.

"The President answered our calls and he will be giving us the money to compensate for what promoters lost during the cancelled concerts between October and December last year," Mr Ssempijja told the press at the weekend.

The Tuesday meeting was also attended by Operation Wealth Creation leaders led by Gen Saleh, Gen Angina and Micro Finance minister Haruna Kasolo and the State Minister for Youth and Children Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi.

The group of artistes included Mr Geoffrey Lutaaya of the New Eagles, Ms Mariam Ndagire, Ms Sofie Gombya and Ykee Benda. The music promoters were represented by Mr Andrew Benon Kibuuka and Mr Ssempijja as well as the association of the Umbrella for Ugandan Bouncers Association.

Mr Paul Katongole, the chairman Uganda Music Promoters Network said: "Unlike what was being reported on social media, we didn't go to the President to ask for money to sideline Bobi. In fact we asked the President that government should not be silent, it should give us an official position on Bobi Wine such as Tanzania did when Diamond Platinumz was banned and the President's reply was that politics and music should be separated."


Ms Nakiwala said the discussions focused on developing the artistes.

She said President Museveni promised to support a one-stop-centre common user facility for artistes under the ministry of Gender at Kapeeka. Mr Museveni will also give a grant of Shs600m to Uganda women artistes led by Ms Mariam Ndagire to complete their Kapeeka facility for fighting drug abuse.

Another grant of Shs1.8b will be released to assist the promoters who had invested in Bobi Wine's Kyarenga concerts that were cancelled by police last year.

Mr Ssempijja will be responsible to distribute the said money.

Another donation of Shs200m will go to the artistes' sacco led by Mr Lutaaya.

"The President also promised to scrap some taxes such as of the noise tax to reduce double taxation on concert activities," Ms Nakiwala said. Local governments and National Environment Management Authority have been levying taxes on promoters.

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