Filming of the SABC drama series came to a standstill five weeks ago as some of the programme’s most prominent actors refused to return to work until creator and executive producer Mfundi Vundla agrees to various demands concerning their contracts.
Last month, an anonymous insider told the City Press that the trouble started after acting SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng announced during the show’s recent birthday celebrations that the broadcaster had signed a three-year contract with Vundla’s Morula Pictures for the first time ever.
“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,” said the source.
“But to their disappointment they were given one-year contracts with no increase in call-out fees. That is when they refused to sign.”
Vundla is refusing to accede to the actors’ demands because he says that three-year contracts would remove his right to write “nonperforming” cast members out of the show.
The Sowetan, however, reports that the lawyer representing the group of actors which includes Sophie Ndaba, Katlego Danke, Menzi Ngubane, Anga Makubalo, Thami Mngqolo, and Xolisa Xaluva – says that Vundla’s approach to the soap is akin to that of a “slave master”.
“Slave masters do not care for the welfare of their slaves. They know that someone was busy breeding more out there,” lawyer Bulelani Mzamo is quoted as saying.
Of the actors’ demands, he explained: “What we are saying is that, if we sign a three-year contract, it must not be easy for any party to just throw it out of the window.
“If someone comes late, or forgets his lines, there must be an appraisal or performance review. “The contract must be paid out just like any other profession. These people are in a demanding industry and their lives are in the public eye.”
As for Vundla, he is no longer speaking to the media, which he has said has been “twisting his statements”.
– TEAMtalk Media