Soapie or circus?

2011-09-11 20:15
Gabisile Ndebele
Johannesburg - Come the end of August for the past three years, Muvhango cast and crew members have been sure of one thing – they will be paid late.

What is not clear, however, is the reason the TshiVenda soapie producer and the SABC are now playing the blame game.

The national broadcaster, which in 2009 admitted to not being in a position to pay some production houses, may be the cause of Muvhango staff not getting their salaries on time last month.

The month of August is the end of soapie season before new contracts are negotiated.

According to sources close to the soap opera, the cast and crew only received their pay on Thursday ­because producer Duma ka Ndlovu failed to pay them on time.

“This is not the first time. Even last year, at the end of season 11, we were paid in drips and drabs,” said a source who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.

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The upset staff had the same experience in 2009 when they got paid late, and last year when they got 50% of their salary in mid-September and the remainder at the end of the month. And each time this ­happens, Ndlovu sends an e-mail apologising to his cast and crew.

And just like clockwork, they received an e-mail, titled “August salaries”, on Monday explaining that the August salary will be paid late.

“We have monies owed to us by the SABC from previous series and we have engaged the broadcaster. We hope to resolve this problem soonest,” read an email from Ndlovu.

In the 238-word letter of apology, he claimed to have approached his bank for a personal loan in order to pay staff but the “SABC refused to sign a letter to acknowledge that they are indebted to us for the final payment” to give to the bank.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was quick to deny Ndlovu’s ­allegations, telling City Press, telephonically, that Ndlovu not paying his staff was a “yearly thing”.

He later wrote in a statement: ­“According to our financials, Word of Mouth [production company] has been paid all the monies for the duration of the 12th season. Contractual and payment issues then become a matter between the production and the actors, not the SABC.”

Splurging

However, two sources claim that what rubs the staff the wrong way is Ndlovu’s habit for splurging right at the time they don’t get paid.

Said one source: “Last year we never got paid, but he showed up driving a brand new Range Rover and this year he turned up in a BMW 523i. This is why many people are so angry for not being paid.”

The Range Rover retails for about R1.2m while the BMW 523i costs just over half-a-million rands.

In response to the SABC’s statement, Ndlovu denied the allegations, ­repeating that the broadcaster still owed him money. He said him buying cars had nothing to do with the payment of his staff.

“The problem is that we still have money outstanding [and] owed to us by the SABC from the past years. They owe us money, we are in an ­internal dispute with them and that has unfortunately affected my staff.

“I also get a salary and buy things on my own accord. Those who want to be personal can be personal, but I go out of my way to make sure I explain to my staff...,” he said.