Some MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday grilled officials from the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity to explain why they sanctioned the recently concluded Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja, an event they said is immoral and not and violates norms and values of Ugandan citizens.
The team from the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity led by Permanent Secretary Alex Okello had appeared before the Committee to respond to queries raised in the 2017/2018 Auditor General’s report.
The report by the Auditor General, John Muwanga had raised three audit queries among which included; the understaffing at the ministry, retrospective approval of procurement which auditors said would compromise the quality of goods and services and unauthorised appointment of local contract staff.
However, the agenda of the meeting went off rail when Hon Rose Mary Nawaut (Amudat Woman MP) faulted the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity for not being assertive enough to convince the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to allow what she described as indecent activity to take place.
NRM’s Nawaut wondered why the Directorate of Ethics was pushing the blame to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for authorizing Nyege Nyege when it is within the Directorate’s mandate to superintend over morality in Uganda.
She said, “I think that is a serious issue, it shows lack of assertiveness on their part as a Directorate. I want to know whether you showed dissatisfaction to the Ministry of Internal Affairs saying the permission you have granted isn’t correct. Have you showed dissatisfaction to some of the stakeholders who are supporting to the extent of giving permission to such indecent activities?”
Amudat District was carved out of Nakapiripirit District in 2010 with the district’s main ethnic group being the Pokot, a group that shares a common culture and customs with the Pokot and Kalenjin of Kenya whose residents were free to walk naked as part of the customs in the Karamoja sub-region.
The Permanent Secretary was also tasked to explain where the proceeds from Nyege Nyege festival are taken a question he requested the Committee to ask the organisers and the Minister of Internal Affairs who okayed the show to take place.
The 2019 Nyege Nyege festival was held between 5th-8th September at the shores of the Source of River Nile a place revelers say is perfect for a swim or spiritual contemplation, as well as wild river rafting and other fun activities.
Organisers argue that the festival stands for peace, love and abundant joy, for underground music and musicians in Africa, from Africa or with a deep interest in getting to know the Continent better and that the event stands for fun and curiosity and pushing boundaries always with a sense of inclusivity and an invitation to wonder.
The festival is said to have been born out of an act of sheer collective madness in the rainy season of 2015 after which it moved to the dry season, the festival is now considered the most important 4-day international music festival in East Africa for both its one-of-a-kind curation and its unique East African party vibe.
Unlike comments from the politicians, the organisers argue that the festival’s aim is to showcase all the exciting development on the East African scene, to show daring projects and give a real voice to the underground, making it a highlight for both audiences and musicians alike.
It should be recalled that in 2018, State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Fr. Simon Lokodo asked Internal Affairs Minister, Jeje Odongo to instruct the Inspector General of Police to cancel the annual Nyege Nyege festival saying the event was going to be used to promote sexuality and the underlying motive of the event would compromise the national integrity and put Ugandan citizens at risk of deviant sexual immorality.
“I have received credible information that from religious leaders, opinion leaders and local authorities that the purpose of this festival, in the last two years, has been compromised to accommodate the celebration and recruitment of young people into homosexuality, and LGBT movement,” the letter reads in part.
However, Jeje Odong overruled Lokodo and okayed the festival to take place with strict conditions given to the organisers.