Bobi Wine: Museveni’s regime fears artistes are a threat to its dynastic ambitions

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Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has accused president Museveni’s regime of frustrating the growth of the entertainment industry, claiming that it is the reason why it refused to enforce the copyright laws.

The musician turned politician also accused the regime of trying to kill commercial distribution of artistes' works in Uganda.

Having realised the influence that artistes wield whenever they leverage their “star-power” and resources towards awakening the population, Kyagulanyi claims Museveni’s regime is out to control and stifle the entertainment industry.

“It sees artists as a threat to its dynastic ambitions, and now desires to clip their wings by impoverishing them. It is also not by mistake that the same regime recently introduced draconian regulations that require artists to first submit drafts of their works for approval’. It intends to censor them,” said Kyagulanyi in a statement.

Kyagulanyi who is also the leader of National Unity Platform (NUP) wondered why the regime gives free land and tax waivers to “shady foreign investors” who end up repatriating all profit to their home countries.

He claimed that the government has on several occasions refused to give local artists and other indigenous investors concessions to boost their trade.

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“In Zambia, they are waiving taxes to support their entertainment industry. In Uganda, the dictator's regime suddenly woke up and started hounding already struggling artists for taxes with threats of dire consequences for non-compliance,” he said.

Kyagulanyi believes Uganda's economy is twice as big as that of Zambia, claiming that the government is reducing even the little it collects from its people so as to boost its “spending power”.

In December last year, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) directed all persons earning an income from entertainment activities to get Tax Identification Numbers (TINs), failure of which they would risk paying fines and imprisonment.

The persons engaged in public entertainment include, artistes, performers, authors, producers, promoters, event managers, recreational space owners, bar owners and hotel owners.

Uganda Bureau of Statistics estimates that collectively, the services sector where entertainment belongs contributes Shs47.1 trillion to the economy, which points to potential of the entertainment sector as a key revenue contributor.

URA said the TIN would enable public entertainment event owners to withhold tax on payments and charge value added tax. Withholding Tax applies to payments for both resident and non-resident entertainers generating income within Uganda.

Whereas it is a civic obligation for all able citizens to contribute their fair share to the national basket, Kyagulanyi said the regime's abrupt tax requirements on the entertainment industry are in bad faith.

“They are a classic case of one milking a cow they do not feed. Unless we all realise that we are in the same sinking boat no matter our sources of income or their depth, and that nobody will rescue us from it except ourselves,” he said.

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