By Simon Abaho
The Operation Wealth Creation(OWC) has denied as untrue, reports that they have been dishing out money to musicians in Gulu.
Several musicians including alleged beneficiaries have for the past one month indicated that many of their colleagues have received some money from the Operation Wealth Creation chief coordinator Gen Salim Saleh who was said to be meeting them in Gulu.
However, in a statement released on Thursday, OWC dismissed the reports saying no money has been given out to musicians as alleged, especially on social media.
“Gen Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation has been engaging with different stakeholders and actors from various sectors in the economy, amongst them, stakeholders in the creative and performing arts industry to consult and explore ways in which OWC can be a vehicle for facilitating different kinds of support and other strategies to help the country deal with the harsh effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy,” a statement by the Operation Wealth Creation spokesperson, Maj Tabaro Kiconco said.
“OWC would like to state that any reports and comments being made that we have given funds to individual musicians or any people in the entertainment industry are false and diversionary and should be treated as such,” Kiconco said.
According to Maj Tabaro, since most sectors have been affected by the pandemic, they decided to see how to intervene and help especially the arts industry which has not been able to hold concerts for two years now.
Kiconco insisted that in Gulu, musicians were only trained in mindset change and not given the money as said on social media and other platforms.
“Operation Wealth Creation in response to the crisis being faced by the country, as it has been doing with other sectors of the economy, has intervened by carrying out and providing mindset change educational training and workshops designed to empower artists, build capacity and equip them with the requisite skills to handle shocks that can impede their ability to earn a living in the future,” Kiconco said.
“OWC recognizes the potential of the sector for sustainable development and poverty alleviation which is one of the reasons it has taken the initiative to coordinate under the stewardship of the Chief Coordinator who has been based in Gulu, Northern Uganda to organize and mainstream the industry in order to fully tap its potential for national development.”
According to Operation Wealth Creation, such engagements with the creative industry are not only limited to musicians but many other groups of people in the country.
“We have not released any money as OWC and if we are to carry out any operations requiring resource mobilization and disbursement, we do so within very clearly defined processes and protocols as spelt out In the Public Finance Management Act.”
The development comes after members of the public came out with different opinions about the presence of musicians in Gulu.
Whereas the musicians who met the chief coordinator of the Operation Wealth Creation, Gen Salim Saleh in Gulu said they were being taught how to carry forward the music industry, others speculated the musicians were there to beg for money from the man who has since shifted based from Kapeeka to Northern Uganda.
An alleged list leaked on social media early this week indicated a number of musicians led by Joseph Mayanja also known as Jose Chameleone acting through their new association Uganda Superstars Association wrote to Gen Salim Saleh asking him to help provide a Covid stimulus fund in consideration of the money they and other artists have lost for not holding shows during the covid lockdown.
On Tuesday, singer Moses Ssali alias Bebe Cool put the debate to rest when he posted on his social media platforms a certificate to show he had completed a three-week training workshop at Gulu.
“Today marks the last day in Gulu where we have been attending a workshop under the theme; ‘Strengthening the Cultural and Creative Industry in Uganda’. The arts and creative industry contribute 3% of Uganda’s GDP and this gives us the right for the government to pay full attention,” Bebe Cool posted.