This push towards regulation of our industry must be celebrated but the Ministry must own up to the fact that as artistes we have pushed for this long before the People Power phenomenon came in to finally spur them into the rushed and inconsistent reactionary policy direction that they are taking.
Evidence of this push can be seen in our spirited fight against the Ministry’s previous attempt to repeal the UNCC Act, and documents shared with them thereafter articulate this.
We pushed that the UNCC needed to be empowered to fulfill her mandate as stipulated in the Act, and were clear that with a functional UNCC, then policies would be naturally tested and any need for revisions would always be immediately obvious to stakeholders.
The simplicity with which they explain the challenges that necessitate the application of these rules “unhealthy competition practiced by all stakeholders…effects of globalization that have brought repugnant practices to our indigenous culture…quarrels and fights that have led to destruction of properties and injuries…stakeholders have developed exploitative and dignifying behaviors…the inadequacy of existing laws…” among many other reasons betray the under-informed efforts of a select team of Ministry Executives bundled together in the vacuum of reality that is their boardroom.
While in their cultural policy document the very Ministry talks of the need to streamline the industry as part of a Poverty Alleviation Action Plan, PEAP 2004, nowhere in this set of rules is empowerment of the creative cultural practitioner to participate in the realization of Uganda’s development goals articulated.
It is instead clearly a vindictive document aimed at punishing a/any ‘misbehaving’ cultural influencer, hence the sob like claims in their Problem Statement, in which event they forget to highlight highly important considerations for the exclusivity of membership, to the arts, that they are want to regulate.
What’s the value of an arts education to membership, what’s the value of apprenticed skill? What’s the value of raw talent? What’s the value of investment? What’s the value of perseverance? What’s the direction thereafter that they guarantee because of these rules?
Instead, punishments are emphasized.
The heated reaction from the cultural practitioners comes with no surprise considering, due to its vindictive construction, that it seems to have been developed without any clear honest guidelines.
Does the Ministry have any policy on formulating policies?
Was this policy followed?
If it was followed, then why are the functions highlighted in this document duplicated?
They talk of a Uganda National Culture Forum, so what is the function of the Ugandan National Cultural Centre, whose mandate is recorded as overseeing the development and regulation of cultural industries, film, creative and performing arts-including theatre, which falls under the same Ministry?
What is the function of the Uganda Film Censorship Board if the Ministry is taking over product Censorship?
What is the role of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) if all works of art are to be registered with the Ministry? What’s the function of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) if relevant filming releases are to be acquired from the Ministry? There is the Media Council, there is the Federation of Performing Artistes (with whom the Ministry is in clear cohorts), there is the National Union of Creative Performing Artistes and Allied Workers, NUCPAAW, the Labor Union for the artistes of which I am Vice Chair, the Uganda Theatre Groups and Artistes Association; why have them all, if the Ministry alone can do the duties they are already mandated to carry out?
The Ministry should aim to collaborate with and empower these already existent initiatives not duplicate them out of relevance. They must go back to the drawing board, consult with acceptable and supported representatives from the artistes communities and other implementing stakeholders, call for a week’s retreat and have a document such as this discussed in depth in clear consideration of already existing efforts/policies and any need for their update.
Luswata is a performing artiste.
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