Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja is set to hold a meeting with Cabinet ministers to discuss the fate of Nyege Nyege.
In a letter dated Sept 7, Nabbanja invited the Ministers of Tourism, Internal Affairs, Gender, Labour and Social Development, ICT and National Guidance and Ethics and integrity to discuss “matters relating to the hosting of Nyege Nyege concert”.
“I am informed that the above concert has been taking place annually in Jinja district. As you may have noted, there has been public concern over the forthcoming concert and it has generated serious debate in Parliament,” said Nabbanja.
“This is, therefore, to invite you for a meeting on Wednesday 7th September, 2022 at the Office of the Prime Minister, First Floor boardroom starting at 8:30am to discuss the above matter.”
The development comes just a day after Parliament directed for the cancellation of Nyege Nyege, a popular music festival over concerns of immorality.
The festival that is scheduled for Thursday, 15 September 2022 for three days at Itanda Falls at the Source of the Nile in Jinja district was first held in 2013.
It remains unclear if the government will cancel the event. Attempts by the former Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo to block the event did not bear fruit.
Hon. Henry Kibalya, the MP Bugabula South, said the minister of Tourism was not mindful of the morals of the country and should not talk about the foreigners who have bought tickets instead of considering the morality of Ugandans.
“I have witnessed this Nyege Nyege and it is immoral; it destroys our children, it destroys everybody. We cannot sacrifice the morals of people because of tickets that have been sold!” he said.
But the organizers say since 2018 they have worked closely with the Uganda Police and all government agencies to ensure a safe and secure festival.
“The organisers have always followed the guidelines and conditions closely,” said the event managers, adding, “There has never been evidence provided of the wild allegations that the festival has been accused of including open sex and wide spread nudity.”
Hon. Martin Mugarra, the Minister of State for Tourism, told Parliament that Nyege Nyege is a huge tourism opportunity that has so far attracted over 8,000 tourists flying into Uganda and have bought entry tickets and booked hotels.
“As we speak now, around 8,000 foreigners have already paid tickets and have booked to come and sleep in this country,” he said. He agreed that there was a need to set conditions for the event to happen.
Hon. Rose Lilly Akello, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity said that the government has been working together with the Uganda Police and the event organisers and that the latter have been summoned for a meeting in which they will have to agree to certain terms and conditions for the event to proceed.
“Children below 18 years are not allowed to attend the event. Secondly, nobody should go to that event naked, nobody should go to the event naked, nobody should go to the event with exposure of the body, and nobody should do any immoral activities,” Akello said.
For the last 5 years Nyege Nyege has been Uganda’s biggest tourism event attracting thousands of international and domestic tourists.
The festival is heavily promoted in Europe, North America and all over Africa. This year’s festival expects more than 8,000 tourists from all over the world.
In 2019, Nyege Nyege was awarded the Ekkula Tourism Award for “Best Overall Tourism Event”
The economic impact of the festival is calculated in millions of dollars, both to the local economy of Busoga region but also to the country as a whole.
“Every year the festival attracts thousands of foreign visitors, turning every visitor into ambassadors to the country and potential investors,” said the organisers of Nyege Nyege.
“Almost all the hotels in Jinja, Kangulumira and Njeru are fully booked. This is the highest occupancy reported in Jinja all year long.”