Ministry on the spot over Sh100m stimulus package for artistes

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Sports CS Amina Mohamed during the national trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at the Moi International Sports Stadium, Kasarani, June 19, 2021. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

MPs have faulted the government over the delayed release of the Sh100 million stimulus package for artistes.

In a charged debate in the House, the lawmakers termed the funds a drop in the ocean for the hundreds of thousands of artistes who are suffering due to the effects of Covid-19.

The MPs stood their ground, even as National Assembly Sports committee chairman Patrick Makau (Mavoko) gave the ministry a clean bill of health, insisting that the funds had been utilised as planned despite hue and cry from the artistes.

The House censured Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed for failing to heed President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to disburse the funds.

Led by Dagoretti South MP John Kiarie, the MPs said the purpose of the money as envisioned by the President was not achieved.

“I would like to authoritatively say that that the intent by the Head of State was not achieved. Sh100 million is a drop in the ocean for the hundreds of thousands of artistes who are suffering right now in the prevailing of the Covid-19 situation in the country,” he said.

Kiarie had sought a response from Makau's committee on how the money was distributed and the beneficiaries.

He also wanted to know the criteria used to shortlist the artistes.

But Makau said the committee was satisfied with how the ministry utilised the funds.

Sports CS Amina Mohammed. [David Gichuru, Standard]

The lawmakers demanded to know whether the money reached the deserving artistes.

Homa Bay county MP Gladys Wanga said it was time to support artistes and ensure they get a fair share of their hard work.

She said it was unfair for an artist to spend day and night creating content for someone to rip where they did not sow.

“The sharing formula is very low. Artistes are paid peanuts yet they are the ones putting in the work. Communications companies are getting more than content creators. We need to take the matter of our artistes seriously and do as much as we can to promote them,” she said.

Gatanga MP Joseph Nduati said despite his county producing some of the best stars in the country, they did not benefit from the stimulus package.

He argued that the payments were spread to areas with no musicians taking away benefits of people that were genuinely in need of the money.

“When the payments were done I have to confess that our people never benefited. With the closure of the bars, mugithi has gone and we all know the effect on our musicians. Let a way be found on how we should assist our artists,” Nduati said.

Kilifi North MP Baya Owen argued that the closure of bars has caused places like Watamu to be a ghost town.

“The closure of entertainment places and the way our artistes are treated has put them in a situation where they have now become beggars. Watamu for an instant has always been known as an entertainment town but now that place is completely dead,” said Baya.

President Uluru Kenyatta officially opens World Under 20 offices in Kasarani on Thursday, June 24, 2021. [Standard Sports]

Nominated MP Hon David Ole Sankok said “The money did not go to the real artistes. We need equity and recognition of artistes all around the country. All the artistes have in the past complained that those ordered to release the money either delayed or embezzled the funds leaving them to wallow in poverty during the hard Coronavirus season."

Makau gave a breakdown of the distribution of the Sh100 million, saying Sh21 million was given to the National Museum, Sh18 million Kenya Cultural Centre and Sh50 million retained at the headquarters.

In April last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry to set aside Sh100 million to cushion artistes from the effects of the coronavirus.

He said the funds will go a long in helping artistes to continue entertaining the public through TV, radio, and the internet.

“I direct the Ministry of Sports, Culture, and Heritage to avail Sh100 million from the Sports Fund to our artistes, actors, and musicians during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic so they may continue to entertain their fellow brothers and sisters through TV, radio, and the internet,” the President said. 

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