The rushed formulation of the Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) under the stewardship of its new president Ediriisa Musuuza aka Eddy Kenzo, is a ploy by a section of the entertainment industry, and indeed, an ace connected schemer whose sole objective is to access funding from government at all costs.
The twitch of the federation is alleged to have been initiated by a one Esther Anne Akampumuza, who is the proprietor of the Mutundwe-based yesteryears Serene Suits Hotel, now renamed A’Lur. Prior to the formation of UNMF, another outfit comprising of rivaling music promoters, also ‘solved’ their differences at the same rendezvous and formed one body known as the Uganda Promoters Federation (UPF). Esther, whose name is also synonymous with the Federation, whose President Abbey Musinguzi aka Abitex, is said to have miraculously turned herself into a ‘promoter’ and is indeed one of its godmothers.
When we spoke to the pioneer Public Relations officer of UNMF Phina Mugerwa aka Masanyalaze, she confirmed that Esther is also one of their Board of Directors’ team that will be unveiled in the near future. The Uganda National Musicians Federation is a collaborative effort of musicians, industry stakeholders, and the Ugandan government, aimed at unifying the music industry in Uganda.
The Federation brings together all associations in the industry under one umbrella, promoting growth, collaboration, and unity among musicians and stakeholders. After a series of meetings between the selected stake holders, several dignitaries who included the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa, Minister of State for Gender and Culture Hon. Peace Mutuzo, gave keynote addresses.
Later, an Interim leadership team was elected by the attendees, having singer Eddy Kenzo as President, with Sheebah Karungi, Pallaso, and Juliana Kanyomozi, deputizing him. Others will lead the following committees; Bebe Cool (Finance committee), Research & Development will be led by Daddy Andre, Phina Masanyalaze (PR & Communications), Moses Matovu (Special Interest groups), Silver Kyagulanyi (Compliance & Regulation), Nina Rose (Disciplinary Committee), Hanson Baliruno (Chief Whip).
Pastor Bugembe/Levixone will be in charge of the Gospel committee while the Kadongo Kamu committee will be headed by Fred Sebata. At the climax, the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja promised to fight for the rights of artists and committed that the government will invest resources in the Federation. Nabbanja also encouraged musicians to lean on her for support, emphasizing the government’s dedication to fostering the growth and success of the Ugandan music industry.
However, insiders in the federation still indicate that Esther, whose hotel entity is financially stressed at the moment, with several bank loans despite having been part of the infamous bail out cash bonanza, is targeting something more than what meets the eye. The UNMF’s organizational structure consists of a General Assembly of members, a Leadership team, Committees focusing on various aspects of the industry, Regional Representatives, a Secretariat, and a Board of Trustees featuring representatives from OWC, UNCC, and NCF.
This formation is precisely the kind of music that the collage of artistes wants to hear and has been the iceberg at the tip of those in charge of the two separate but entwined federations. It should be noted that though both the promoters and musicians believe that through federating they will easily access funding to a tune of several billion shillings from government, the ugly truth is that this notion is farfetched.
There is simply no vote for the entertainment sector in the Prime minister’s office at that time to cater for the same with them only pocketing maybe the UGX5M facilitation, that each of the members parties that attended the formulation sojourn are alleged to have been rewarded. This is not the first time that both the promoters and Musicians are trying to dip their hands into the government coffers.
During the Covid 19 Lockdown, these parties and at times individuals turned the Operation Wealth Creation Overseer Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh’s then base in Gulu as a mecca for alms. Indeed, he managed to facilitate some of their pressing financial needs. This however, came at his insistence that they become more organized by acquiring basic tax over heads like Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) for each entity and full registration for members.
Unknowingly, both the promoters and artistes in a haste to get hold of the bounty, went full throttle and did the needful. This ace move by the general did not only help to calculate the true numbers of those involved in the sector, but also create a data base for the Uganda Revenue Authority to streamline its between 6%-18% withholding tax it requires from them whenever they perform.
When the Gen realized that though he had tried his best to organize the industry, it was still dogged by individual gluttonous monetary demands. This is when he channeled the same to the prime minister’s office whose head was too glad to take over the outfit. However, when the issue was raised to the accounting officer at the time the late Keith Muhakanizi, he is said to have ‘trashed’ it and advised the principal to instead redirect the same to its line ministry of Gender, Labor and social welfare.
This is what the entertainment industry players are yet to digest thus seeming to be everywhere but nowhere. The only winner in the A’lur Hotel hosted federation sojourns might be only the owner of the rendezvous who will bill government for the said sessions and later smile her way to the bank from ear to ear.
- Mr. Jacko David Waluluka is another unique entertainment and general investigative news writer, a field he has diligently covered for over fifteen years. He’s also the Chief Administrator at The Investigator. He can easily be reached via [email protected]
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