by our reporter
Dr. Diana Atwiine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health together with her officials that included the Directors for General and that of Clinical Services, the Scientific Committee and other Experts on the COVID task team, on Friday 8th January 2021 held a meeting attended by the Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and representatives of the Uganda national Cultural Centre (UNCC), the Artists’ Union and Associations.
The full list of attendees is attached.
This meeting, which took place at the Ministry of Health, was convened to
address the grievances of the Culture and Creative Artists, who constitute a
significant percentage of the Entertainment Industry, on the matter of the
effect(s) of the continued COVID-19 Lockdown on this subsector. Of particular
concern was the fact that Government had eased COVID-19 restrictions on
various sectors by allowing meetings and gatherings of not more than 200
persons, provided Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were strictly
observed, with the exception of activities of the Culture and Creative Industry.
This decision has caused untold suffering and despair to the affected persons
who have been denied a source of livelihood since March 2020 – with no clear
indication of how long this state of affairs would obtain.
On the scope of coverage of the Statement issued by Ministry of Health on 9thNovember 2020 that announced the lifting of lockdown restrictions on Cinema Halls, the meeting concurred that this was still very restrictive. Creative/artistic performances take place in many other places including Theatres, Hotels,
Conference Centres/Halls, Clubs/Bars/Discotheques/Lounges, Open
Parks/Fields, Gardens, Sports Clubs, Art Galleries, Exhibition Halls,
Community Halls, City Halls and even Roof Tops.
Information was shared by the experts and scientists coordinating the country’s
response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the fact that:
• The decision to announce the Lockdown was based on scientific evidence
on factors that increase the risk of contracting COVID – with the
Entertainment Industry considered “super-spreaders”.
• It is easier to enforce the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in
Sectors/activities where there are no “commercial benefits”, such as the
religious institutions, than in the Entertainment Industry. Similarly, the
risk is greater where activities are indoors rather than for outdoor or openair events.
• The threat of contracting COVID-19 is now over ten-fold compared to the
time Government imposed the lockdown in March 2020. Control
measures instituted then were meant the reduce risk coming mainly from
outside the country yet the virus has now spread wide within the
community and up to 300 deaths already recorded.
In view of the foregoing, the meeting resolved as follows:
- That Government appreciates the role played by the Culture and Creative
Artists and their contribution to the social economic development of
Uganda. The Entertainment Industry employs millions of young people,
of whom over 60 percent live in urban and peri-urban areas of Uganda
and have it as their sole source of livelihood and sustenance, as talent,
profession and business.
- That Government acknowledges the challenges of COVID-19 and its
effects on the economy and specifically on the Artists and the need for
them to be supported.
- That the Culture and Creative Art Sub-sector should hold meetings within
its established structures or domains, under the overall coordination of the
Uganda National Cultural Centre, and assess the risks of COVID-19 and
how to mitigate them once restrictions are eased.
- That within one-week from the date of this meeting, the proposals made
will be shared with and reviewed by the Scientific Committee on COVID19 before submission to the multi-sectoral National Task Force, chaired
by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister, for a final decision.
- That as a way of supporting Artists, Government puts in place measures
for enforcing the Copyright Law in order that they continuously enjoy
benefits from their creativity and/or products and further that their
resilience to withstand shocks of this nature is strengthened.
- That the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development should
continue to pursue, with the relevant authorities, Government’s
commitment to provide a Stimulus Fund for Artists within the budget.
Short-term financial bail-outs are not sustainable due to lack of resources
and the vastness of the targeted beneficiaries.
- That the meeting mandates the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender,
Labour and Social Development to issue this Communique.
Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development
List of Participants
- Dr. Diana Atwiine PS MoH
- Mr. Agrey David Kibenge PS MGLSD
- Mr. H. G. Mwebesa Director General Services MoH
- Dr. Charles Olaro Director Clinical Services MoH
- Mr. Francis Peter Ojede ED UNCC
- Mr. Andrew Ssebaggala Production Manager UNCC
- Ms. Anita Seruwagi General Secretary Artists Union
- Mr. Emmanuel Mulondo PRO National Culture
- Mr. Isaac Rucci Executive Member Uganda Music
- Mr. Geofrey Seremba Under Secretary MoH
- Mr. Geoffrey Isiko SAS MoH
- Ms. Phina Mugerwa General Secretary UMA
- Mr. Innocent Byaruhanga Ass. Comm. Family MGLSD
- Dr. Daniel Okello Ayen Director Health Services KCCA
- Dr. Henry Kyobe Incident Commander, Emergency
- Dr. Misaki Wayengera Chairperson, Scientific
- Mr. Brian Luswata Principal Legal Affairs Officer MoH