Popular soapie’s actors up in arms over new contracts

2013-10-14 09:42
Johannesburg - There’s trouble brewing on the set of Generations: Almost all the soapie’s cast members have refused to sign their new contracts, City Press reported.

City Press has learnt that some of the show’s most popular actors are up in arms because executive producer Mfundi Vundla did not accede to their demands for wage increases and did not extend their one-year contracts to three years.

The off-screen drama has reached such unpalatable heights that the thespians have appointed an attorney, Bulelani Mzamo, to negotiate the matter on their behalf.

The cast and crew of Generations were set to return to the soapie’s Auckland Park, Johannesburg studios on Monday after a two-week break. Insiders are expecting yet more drama as they try to hammer out their differences and get back to work.

Among those who are at odds with Vundla over contracts are Sophie “Queen Moroka” Ndaba, Katlego “Dineo Mashaba” Danke, Menzi “Sbusiso Dhlomo” Ngubane, Anga “MJ” Makubalo, Thami “Senzo” Mngqolo and Xolisa “Jason” Xaluva.

Vundla confirmed the dispute, saying actors asking for longer contracts meant he would “abdicate my right” to write out “nonperforming” cast members.

He said he had enough episodes in the bag to go on without the actors with whom he’s at loggerheads, and would write them out of the show if the dispute could not be resolved.

A production team member speaking to City Press on condition of anonymity said the trouble started when the SABC’s acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced during Generations’ 20th anniversary celebrations that the corporation had, for the first time, signed a three-year contract with Vundla’s company, Morula Pictures.

“The cast members jumped up and down with excitement when he made this announcement because they too expected to sign two- or three-year contracts,” the source said.

“But to their disappointment they were given one-year contracts with no increase in call-out fees. That is when they refused to sign,” he said.

The source said the cast members met on Thursday in Auckland Park and agreed to employ an attorney to represent them at negotiations.

“They are trying to avoid a situation where they will exchange acrimonious words with Mr Vundla because they respect him and hold him in high regard.”

He said the actors wanted the stability that a three-year contract would offer financially.

“Signing three-year contracts plus an increase in their call-out fees will enhance their chances of getting home loans so they too can own homes like other workers. Generations is Africa’s biggest soapie, but what do these cast members have to show for being part of it? Zilch.”

Actor Menzi Ngubane refused to comment, and actress Winnie Modise, who plays Khethiwe Ngcobo, said: “The matter is not in my hands. Speak to our representatives.”

Advocate Mzamo confirmed that cast members had appointed him to negotiate with the soapie producers, but he denied claims of a dispute between the two parties.

“If you are given a contract that has been drafted by an attorney to sign, you can get another attorney to check it for you so he can deliver the things that you want in it and exclude certain clauses that you don’t want in it,” he said.

Asked if the cast members would return to the set before an agreement could be reached, Mzamo said: “I just hope we will have a mutually agreed contract.”

He would not divulge details of which clauses were troubling his clients, saying it was a “privileged matter”.

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