Senator Sakaja poses with Fundi Frank [Edward Kiplimo]

Following the President's initial call to meet the creative industry that produced a document listing issues raised by various sectors last year, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja yesterday spent the better part of his evening meeting up with representatives of the creative society of Kenya. 

The creatives sort the government's intervention to have the issues they had listed in the arising document addressed by the various respective identities with the Senator promising to present their grievances within the Senate committee.  

Sakaja however tasked the artistes to resolve their issues, work together and flesh up their concerns in a week's time after which he would raise the concerns with the relevant ministries and management bodies.

 "There's a need for the industry to voice common agendas that will complement the concerns of all artistes. If all creatives can be organised in pushing a common agenda, they will be recognised," he appealed.   

Some of the issues that took centre stage during the discussions included the forensic audit report released by the Kenya Copyright Board KECOBO, that is yet to be effected, accountability and management of the 100 million stimulus package released by the Government to help creatives during the Covid 19 pandemic and the payments owed by broadcasters to artists for use of their music.

The Senator took concern with the issues noting that majority of the agencies who are charged with the responsibilities had done so without much regard to the beneficiaries rather to personal interests.

"There has to be a sense of dedication and willingness in following up all these issues. If no one does, people will deem them as empty promises from the political elite yet nobody took the responsibility to follow it up," he said.

The artistes raised concerns about being denied the economic right to control their finances and how it was distributed.

 "We need systems that can accurately track the money collected, the criteria used, when and how it should be released as well as the material itself to cut-off the diversion of payments. What we are experiencing now is lack of transparency and shifting blame from different agencies tasked to these roles," noted fashion and media personality Fundi Frank.

The fashion industry also highlighted the need to revisit the President's appeal to encourage buying of locally made products.

 "If we could all commit to the use locally made products just for one day set aside in a week, the demand for home-grown products would definitely shoot up. This needs to be raised with the cultural ministry with a leading example by our leaders as they do while seeking votes," said the legislator.

Representatives who convened the meeting echoed the need to review the operations, systems and internal controls of Collective Management Organisations, CMO's citing that they were at a serious risk of misappropriation of funds, civil liabilities, loss of income and possible sanctions.  

Film makers and content creators also urged the government to be lenient of their situation and work on a formula that would minimise the huge amounts charged in licensing saying the current situation doesn't favour the ease of doing film business.


Senator Sakaja with events organizer Buddha Blaze [Edward Kiplimo]

 "It would help much if all these could be narrowed down to an annual film license that encompasses all. Furthermore, there's a need to assist local film makers to know in what category they fall into when filing tax returns so that the money can be channelled to one basket and film makers can rightfully claim their contribution to the country's G. D. P," added Dr Zippy Akoth.

The Senator instructed the creatives to come up with an updated and fleshed out document highlighting the outstanding issues that needed streamlining emphasizing that his office was open to receiving and dispatching the right information in ensuring that the directive was beneficial to right owners.

 "My office has an open door policy yet I only get to know about the grievances via social media." We are focused on giving artistes creative spaces on which they can express the spirit captured and selling the experiences even within a city," he added. 

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on the 6th of July where a special convention that will include all fore-mentioned organs and government representatives present.