MIN­IS­TERS GET STUCK IN DRAMA

CityPress - - Front Page - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­press.co.za

Gen­er­a­tions fans could wake up on Tues­day morn­ing to dis­cover that the ax­ing of their favourite stars was just a soapie-style bad dream. Arts and Cul­ture Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa has called an ur­gent meet­ing to­mor­row with the 16 fired ac­tors, show cre­ator MMSV Pro­duc­tions and unions rep­re­sent­ing the ac­tors.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi, Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies and Labour Min­is­ter Mil­dred Oliphant have also been in­vited. Sandile Memela, Mthethwa’s spokesper­son, con­firmed the meet­ing was set for to­mor­row in Pre­to­ria. He would not say what was on the agenda, but a source with knowl­edge of the meet­ing told City Press the ac­tors’ re­in­state­ment would be the first item up for dis­cus­sion.

Mthethwa’s in­ter­ven­tion – he’s just the lat­est se­nior politi­cian to stick his oar in amid an uproar around the mass sack­ing – could fal­ter be­cause Gen­er­a­tions’ ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Mfundi Vundla in­sists he’s not be­holden to politi­cians.

“I am ac­count­able to the client, which is the SABC. I am ac­count­able to the au­di­ence to de­liver qual­ity con­tent and that’s my job,” Vundla said dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the public broad­caster’s of­fices in Auck­land Park on Fri­day.

When con­tacted yes­ter­day, Vundla said he would not at­tend Mthethwa’s meet­ing be­cause the min­is­ter had been ad­vised by the Na­tional Film and Video Foun­da­tion that the depart­ment had no le­gal stand­ing in the mat­ter.

“It has also ad­vised the min­is­ter that the depart­ment must not be seen to be tak­ing sides,” Vundla said.

The 16 prin­ci­pal ac­tors on Gen­er­a­tions were sacked on Mon­day af­ter go­ing on strike in a long-run­ning dis­pute over pay and con­tracts.

Among those fired were vet­eran ac­tors in­clud­ing Menzi Ngubane, So­phie Nd­aba and Pa­trick Shai.

The axed 16, who now call them­selves the Gen­er­a­tions Ac­tors Guild, wrote an open let­ter to their fans on Tues­day ex­plain­ing why they’d gone on strike.

They claimed they were be­ing paid well be­low the in­dus­try stan­dard, and had not re­ceived syn­di­ca­tion fees or roy­al­ties. Also at is­sue is a fight around three-year con­tracts, which they have re­peat­edly de­manded.

But MMSV Pro­duc­tions hit back on Fri­day, say­ing the ac­tors who’d been dis­missed earned an av­er­age of R55 000 a month, mak­ing them among South Africa’s most well-paid screen stars. Vundla claimed some had asked the com­pany to fork out for per­sonal body­guards. Pro­ducer Friedrich Stark lashed out at those who had al­legedly de­manded di­eti­tians and per­sonal train­ers. The In­de­pen­dent Pro­duc­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion of SA also sup­ported Vundla, say­ing soapie ac­tors were re­mu­ner­ated fairly. Zanele Modiba, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, said: “It was un­fair for the Gen­er­a­tions ac­tors to hold pro­duc­ers at ran­som be­cause they are paid above the in­dus­try rate.” Mthethwa, the ANC Youth League and al­liance part­ner Cosatu are among those call­ing for a res­o­lu­tion to this un­likely na­tional “cri­sis”.

Mthethwa said: “We are deeply con­cerned about th­ese de­vel­op­ments and hope that SABC man­age­ment, the pro­duc­tion com­pany and worker rep­re­sen­ta­tives will work to­gether to reach a speedy res­o­lu­tion to this mat­ter.”

PHOTO: HER­MAN VERWEY

Menzi Ngubane Katlego Danke

So­phie Nd­aba

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