Ramifications of Proposed Government Act on Entertainment Simplified.

Forget about stopping a certain group of Musicians who seem not side with the People in power, Ugandan Government is biting again. This time, the fangs are onto the entertainment industry. Mohamed Kimbugwe, a seasoned commentator and industry practitioner nudges couldn’t have been more apt in his assessment.

If government feels they must have a say in the entertainment industry, then they must directly get involved in attracting investment into the sector – including vibrant talent identification and incubation mechanisms, capacity building, production, branding, marketing, distribution and promotion structures, he says.

Uganda Police Blocking Kyarenga Show

There are no prizes for guessing what could have triggered the sudden knee-jerk reaction from a government that has, until now continued to play a deaf ear to many of its citizen’s needs.

On the other side, Uganda has always been known for the unfair treatment among artists and a few that side with the senior citizens looked more comfortable but hopefully this will act as a wake up call since since the act will not be partisan.

The situation now reminds me of a quotation by the German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemöller,


First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Anyway, whereas regulation in its entirety isn’t exactly bad, the faith in which it’s been pushed reeks of panic. A quick glance at the drafted acts shows it all, broken down as outlined below.

Social Media Tax Protesters

1) No one shall perform public entertainment unless they are registered and licensed as a performing artiste with the Ministry of Culture. The same applies to Events organizers and promoters.

Penalty: Offenders shall be banned from practicing their trade in Uganda.

2) Even after obtaining a license in 1) above, any artiste wishing to stage performances abroad would have to first obtain clearance from the Minister responsible for Culture, in Uganda.

Penalty: Performing licence shall be revoked for a period of up to one year. Gross non-compliance will attract a period of training and rehabilitation.

3) No Artiste is permitted to perform on a public stage after taking any of the drugs prohibited by Ugandan law. These include cocaine and marijuana, among others.

Penalty: “Heavy punishment” and cancellation of performance licence until they prove to have stopped taking drugs.

4) No artiste will be permitted to shoot a music video without attaining permission from the Ministry of Culture.

Penalty: Performing licence shall be revoked for a period of up to one year. Gross non-compliance will attract a period of training and rehabilitation.

Singer Eddy Kenzo

5) No artiste will be permitted to stage a performance in more than one venue on the same day, unless the events are at least four hours apart.

Penalty: Performing licence shall be revoked for a period of up to one year. Gross non-compliance will attract a period of training and rehabilitation.

6) An artiste shall strictly be allowed to perform for not less than an hour and not more than two hours.

Penalty: Performing licence shall be revoked for a period of up to one year. Gross non-compliance will attract a period of training and rehabilitation.

7) Indecently-dressed artistes shall not be allowed to step on stage. The artiste and director shall both face the Disciplinary Committee.

Penalty: Practicing licence will be revoked with immediate effect, pay a fine of up to 25 currency points or both.

8) Every Event Promoter must provide a hygiene kit to each performing artiste at an event.

Penalty: All artistes affected shall not be allowed to perform on the given day. Second count will attract written warning. Third count will attract licence revocation.

9) No artiste shall be allowed to use vulgar language while on stage.

Penalty: Practicing licence will be revoked with immediate effect, pay a fine of up to 25 currency points or both.

10) An artiste or public performer shall observe proper hygiene before public performance or entertainment. Promoters, Events and festival Organizers shall also be required to provide hygiene kits to every individual that is going to perform. This will be enforced by a censorship board consisting of a disciplinary committee. Its role will be to filter entertainment content and ensure discipline among the artistes.

Penalty: Artistes shall not be allowed to perform on the given day. Second count will attract written warning. Third count will attract licence revocation.

The Late Mowzey Radio

11) Every artiste or entertainer shall have to register their music or work with the Uganda National Culture Forum.

Penalty: Performance ban up to a maximum of six months.

12) Discrimination and Sexual harassment are prohibited. This applies to Promoters, Events and festival Organizers.

Penalty: Artistes shall not be allowed to perform on the given day. Second count will attract written warning. Third count will attract licence revocation.

13) Promoters, Events and festival Organizers shall be required to submit details of the event, including but not limited to the list of works and items to be performed.

Some of the Music Promoters and Artists

Penalty: Artistes shall not be allowed to perform on the given day. Second count will attract written warning. Third count will attract licence revocation.

14) Promoters, Events and festival Organizers are required to ensure that the performance venues have valid Copyright licence and other standard equipment.

Penalty: Offenders shall be banned from practicing their trade in Uganda.

15) Promoters, Events and festival Organizers shall be required to sign performance contracts indicating, among others, the performance venue, remunerations and duration of performance.

Bobi and Bebe

Penalty: Not clearly specified. But the long-term prediction is that will also attract a ban

Does anybody see a catch, there? It may not happen today, but a month or a year from today, government could decide to start taxing artistes. And what a better way than to start from this move, where they’ll now have every record of a registered artiste’s earnings? The same will happen for events organizers and promoters.

The Bitter truth is, the Ugandan Government has already done more harm than good to the Music Sector and this proposed act will be its last nail to the already torn Industry.

And when all has been said and done, we’ll end up with the same old problems that have dogged our beloved banana republic.

We’ll have the guys who endorsed ‘Tubonga Nawe’ getting byes into their events, while the ‘Tuliyambala Engule’ sympathizers will have their sources of livelihood cut off. It’s tough times for the average anti-establishment entertainment out there!