KAMPALA —After an online campaign urging MTV Base to cancel its annual MTV Africa Music Awards over allegations of human rights abuses by the Ugandan government, the TV channel postponed the awards Thursday, which was due to be held in Kampala.
“It was painful to see MTV was being used to sanitize the oppressive regime here in Uganda,” said presidential candidate Bobi Wine during a news conference Thursday. “I am glad MTV is also seeing it and acting in respect of all the rights of artists. It would be such a shame for the MTV Music Awards to be held in Uganda under gunpoint.”
MTV Base did not give a reason for the postponement.
When asked by CNN whether the decision had anything to do with the alleged human rights abuses in Uganda, a communications director at Viacom, MTV’s parent company, said “we have nothing further to add.”
Before Thursday’s news conference, Bobi Wine’s legal team issued a 50-page report collating allegations of apparent abuses, human rights violations, and irregularities relating to the national elections on January 14.
A local news agency UgStandard reported that the TV giant has been under intense pressure to condemn human rights violations in Uganda including kidnap and torture of opposition supporters, alleged election malpractice, murder, police brutality, internet and social media shutdowns among others.
Ugandan government, through the Uganda Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities entered a partnership with MTV to have the awards held in Uganda to promote tourism— four years after the prestigious show went on a sabbatical.
The event was scheduled to take place on February 20, 2021 in Kampala, for the first time ever.
The MTV Africa Music Awards were established in 2008 by MTV Networks Africa to celebrate the most popular contemporary music on the continent and have grown to become prestigious.
Last week, the same local news platform who was on closely following the awards reported that Mr. Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners LLP who represents Bobi Wine has launched a campaign—asking African Artists to boycott the MTV Base.
Lawyer Amsterdam said he had asked all his friends in South Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania Zambia, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya to speak to MTV about the necessity of a boycott of any show in Uganda that lends legitimacy to President Museveni at this time.
It is not clear whether these nominees, performers or even sponsors could have pulled out forcing the channel to cancel the awards all together.