Will Gareth feel the love on set?

Re­in­stated Idols judge Gareth Cliff is hold­ing out the olive branch, but at least two of his fel­low judges don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to grab it

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO and NTOMBI­ZODWA MAKHOBA news@city­press.co.za

Gareth Cliff may not be har­bour­ing any re­sent­ment against M-Net and want by­gones to be by­gones, but the con­tro­ver­sial shock jock may face some un­hap­pi­ness from his col­leagues when he re­turns to work on Wed­nes­day. Af­ter Cliff held a press con­fer­ence at his Clif­fCen­tral stu­dios in Rivo­nia yes­ter­day, a highly placed in­sider close to one of the judges told City Press that “things are not as rosy” on the Idols SA set.

“The other Idols judges, [par­tic­u­larly] Unathi Msen­gana and Somizi Mh­longo, are not happy with Gareth for drag­ging them into his racial de­ba­cle. If you fol­low them on so­cial me­dia, you would have no­ticed that nei­ther has even said well done for win­ning the case,” she said.

Both Msen­gana and Mh­longo have breathed not a word about Cliff on Twit­ter. When ap­proached for com­ment yes­ter­day, all Mh­longo would say was: “I don’t want to com­ment on Gareth.”

Msen­gana did not re­spond to phone calls or SMSes.

In­sid­ers on the Idols pro­duc­tion team say they do not know of any po­ten­tial bad blood on set.

Last week, Cliff ac­cused M-Net of dou­ble stan­dards, ar­gu­ing in his court ap­pli­ca­tion that the broad­caster did not take the same harsh ac­tion against Msen­gana and Mh­longo, who both caused pub­lic out­rage for con­tro­ver­sial things they said last year.

Dur­ing the #Zu­maMustFall cam­paign in De­cem­ber last year, Mh­longo voiced his opin­ion on In­sta­gram about “racist white South Africans hop­ing that Zuma’s fall will give them a white pres­i­dent or bring back apartheid”.

And in Au­gust, Msen­gana was em­broiled in a spat with a Twit­ter fol­lower in which she used vul­gar lan­guage.

M-Net tried to dis­miss Cliff’s claims, say­ing the con­tro­versy gen­er­ated by Msen­gana and Mh­longo was not com­pa­ra­ble to the state­ment Cliff made on Twit­ter in re­sponse to pub­lic out­rage against KwaZulu-Na­tal es­tate agent Penny Spar­row’s com­ments liken­ing black peo­ple on beaches to mon­keys. Cliff protested that peo­ple “just do not un­der­stand free speech”.

At his press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, Cliff said: “I do not hold a grudge against M-Net and have asked that by­gones be by­gones.

“There are great peo­ple who suf­fered for our right to free ex­pres­sion; peo­ple like Nelson Man­dela. Who am I to say any­thing dif­fer­ent?”

Cliff is ex­pected back at work on Wed­nes­day af­ter the South Gaut­eng High Court ruled in his favour on Fri­day, order­ing M-Net to re­in­state him.

Be­fore hand­ing down judg­ment, Judge Caro­line Ni­cholls told the court the sub­ject mat­ter was not racism, free­dom of ex­pres­sion or hate speech, but dealt with solely a con­trac­tual agree­ment.

“Gareth Cliff seeks in­terim re­in­state­ment of the con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship be­tween the par­ties, to what it was on Jan­uary 6 2016,” she said.

Ni­cholls ruled: “I am of the view that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the par­ties, as well as their con­duct, is sup­port­ive of Cliff’s con­tention that a con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship be­tween M-Net and Cliff ex­isted. He has there­fore made a prima fa­cie case for tem­po­rary re­in­state­ment.”

M-Net con­firmed yes­ter­day it would re­in­state Cliff as per the court or­der.

Non­du­miso Mabece, head of pub­lic re­la­tions at Mzansi Magic, said: “As a good cor­po­rate ci­ti­zen that re­spects the rule of law, M-Net will re­in­state Cliff as a judge on sea­son 12 of Idols SA.

“We be­lieve we did the right thing by tak­ing Mr Cliff off the show. We re­main com­mit­ted to us­ing [our] plat­forms to con­trib­ute to a united South Africa,” she added.

On the is­sue of the R25 mil­lion law­suit, Cliff’s lawyer Eric Mabuza said: “He has 60 days to de­cide whether he wants to con­tinue with the law­suit.”

PHOTO: EL­IZ­A­BETH SE­JAKE / CITY PRESS

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Gareth Cliff re­joins the Idols SA judg­ing panel on Wed­nes­day

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