Ac­tors mat­ter more than mine work­ers

CityPress - - Voices -

Ear­lier this year, South Africa ex­pe­ri­enced its long­est min­ing strike when min­ers downed tools for five months. Gov­ern­ment min­is­ters mostly stayed away from the dis­pute be­cause it was a labour mat­ter between em­ployer and em­ployee.

This week, there was no keep­ing them away when the public broad­caster fired 16 ac­tors from its lead­ing soapie, Gen­er­a­tions. At least four gov­ern­ment min­is­ters got in­volved, the gov­ern­ing party’s youth league also popped its head above the para­pet and Coastu weighed in, too.

The un­prece­dented, high-level sup­port for the ac­tors is over­whelm­ing.

For years, pleas by a TV in­dus­try brought to its knees by the SABC’s economic col­lapse were ig­nored – but now the min­is­ters will in­sti­tute an in­ter­ven­tion be­cause there are TV stars in­volved.

At the time of the col­lapse, the in­dus­try lob­bied all of th­ese de­part­ments to help come up with a strat­egy to sus­tain a grow­ing and valu­able in­dus­try. They were ig­nored.

The SABC is – ac­cord­ing to unions within the build­ing – ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a huge num­ber of Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion and labour dis­putes, no­tably more so since the ar­rival of chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng. Some unions ac­cuse him of favouritism and un­fair pro­mo­tions – even the Public Pro­tec­tor has found ev­i­dence of ir­reg­u­lar pay hikes and pro­mo­tions. Why did th­ese gov­ern­ment de­part­ments not in­ter­vene then?

Is it be­cause Gen­er­a­tions is so mas­sively pop­u­lar and this story is so huge that they feel they can win po­lit­i­cal points?

Gen­er­a­tions is an as­set to the public broad­caster and we ex­pect the min­is­ters to voice their con­cerns. But the min­ing strike was huge and left a mas­sive dent in our econ­omy. True lead­ers lead; they don’t fol­low soapies.

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