By Ernest Njoroge
Kenya’s State Department for Culture could not immediately account for $442000 spent to cushion artists and musicians at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the country’s parliament asked for details, last week.
“We are giving you up to the close of business tomorrow, to table evidence showing the names, details, and accounts of the beneficiaries,” Aden Duale, temporary chair of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) told Joseptha Mukobe, the Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage on Tuesday, July 27, 2021.
Ms. Mukobe, a career civil servant of 25 years standing, said the money was transmitted to three State departments, which paid the artistes at the height of the pandemic.
The parliamentary hearing on the disbursement of the palliatives was happening 18 months after the subsidy was announced.
In April 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a $920,000 fund to cushion artistes, actors, and musicians from the effects of the pandemic and continue entertaining the public through TV, radio, and the internet.
“All our local artistes will be earning a total of Sh200Million ($1.84Million), starting this month that will be paid to musicians through the system and other platforms that we have developed. This shall translate this year to over Sh2Billion ($18.4Million) going into the pockets of our young artistes and young Kenyans,” said President Kenyatta in a televised address.
The legislators, on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, took the PS task to prove whether the $442,000 landed into the accounts of the targeted musicians.
“We want to know how this money was used. Where is the list of beneficiaries? I was the Leader of the Majority when the President announced this package that was meant to cushion our artistes. We want to know if the ministry bureaucrats pocketed the cash. We want responses by close of business tomorrow or we retreat and write our report,” said Mr. Duale.
Eve Obara, Member of Parliament representing Kasipul Kabondo constituency, in Homa Bay Country, lashed out at Ms. Mukobe for tending casual responses to the committee. “Your responses to this committee are wanting. You are the PS and how did you pay our young musicians with the millions you received?” Dr. Obara asked.
Mukobe asked for more time to table what she called voluminous payment documents from the State Department of Culture, the Kenya Film Classification Board, and the Kenya Museums.