Following her scathing open letter to Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation Minister Nathi Mthethwa regarding the status quo of the South African entertainment industry and how this impacts performers negatively, actress Vatiswa Ndara has finally gotten a chance to sit down with the minister to further air her grievances.
She confirmed their meeting in a tweet after they concluded and confirmed that he would be sharing his response to her letter in due course.
Just had a meeting with Minister @NathiMthethwaSA giving me an opportunity to expand on the issues raised in the Open letter. He'll respond to it in due course. He encourages SA creatives to not lose momentum and keep up the burning spirit of progress.
— Vatiswa Ndara (@theVati_Can) October 9, 2019
Ndara posted the letter on Monday morning outlining the exploitation she suffered while working on the Ferguson Films production iGazi, in the hopes of getting the minister to intervene in the way the entertainment industry treats and pays its talent.
Ferguson Films is a production house co-owned by Connie and Shona Ferguson and is responsible for productions such as iGazi, Rockville, The Queen and The Throne, as well as the 1Magic telenovela The River.
The minister initially confirmed receipt of the letter on social media on Monday and followed that up with a call to Ndara on Tuesday.
Thank you for taking my call earlier Vatiswa @theVati_Can & for taking me in your confidence. I deemed it important that mine not be an immediate public response but one that stems from first embracing you as the actors we dearly love first. I have heard you. We will be in touch. pic.twitter.com/dlm4aogP00
— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) October 8, 2019
Given the fact that Ndara specifically highlighted her experience with the Fergusons (actors and producers Connie and Shona), the couple have been trending since Monday.
Some of the talent they have previously worked with added to the topic by sharing stories of their own experiences with them, while others shared stories or made comments about their experience with the industry as a whole.
There are many truths that still need to surface about the blatant exploitation of artists in this country and the conditions under which they work. We assume RSA is Hollywood. It is not. Artists stories will come out one by one. It is time.
— KatlegoDanke (@KatlegoDanke) October 7, 2019
We need more gatvol voices to call out the mess in the South African television industry. Thank you Vatiswa Ndara for your bravery. We have to stand with you. All of us. @theVati_Can
— Mme a Masakona (@FloMasebe) October 7, 2019
Are we going to act shocked about the #Fergusons when it was @Connie_Ferguson who went to help Mfundi when #GenerationsTheLegacy was in the pits with the 16 actors. She then with her move made a bold statement that she doesn't care about actor's rights.
— Matome (@MatomeKaSebele) October 7, 2019
Enkosi Sis V ???????????????????????? let us pray that our cries will finally be heard.
— Anga Makubalo (@NaakMusiQ) October 7, 2019
The Fergusons have since come forward through their legal representation to repudiate Ndara’s version of events. They also stated that they would be considering legal action against actress Keke Mphuthi, who in a Twitter thread posted on Monday evening claimed she was “earning below minimum” while simultaneously working on two productions for the power couple.
Mphuthi also alleges she was fired mid-season on the show she was working on because she had fallen pregnant and was not paid out her full contract as a result.
OUR OFFICIAL STATEMENT: pic.twitter.com/ttUQ56WNBY
— UNCLE SHO (@Shona_Ferguson) October 9, 2019
In their statement posted on social media on Wednesday, the Fergusons said they supported the need for the industry to be regulated and the Performance Protection Amendment Bill needed to be signed “sooner rather than later”, in addition to claiming that the allegations made by Ndara and other actors “painted a false picture”.
The couple added that they did attempt to negotiate with Ndara and her agent “in good faith” after her opening request for R700,000 for the proposed five-week period.
“The agent subsequently recused himself from the negotiations. Thereafter we dealt with her manager. They made it very clear that Ms Ndara would not accept anything less than R700,000 for the 5-week shoot. She absolutely had every right to decline our offer, which she did, and we, on the other hand, as we could not meet her financial demand, due to contractual restraints, had every right to move on amicably, which we tried to do,” reads part of the statement.
The couple added that they did not reap financial benefits through broadcasts, licensing deals and repackaging of the show, as claimed by Ndara in her letter.
“We are pretty much in the same boat as the artist. We do not own the shows we produce under commission,” they said.
On their lavish lifestyle, the Fergusons said they did not owe anyone an explanation on how they managed their finances and lifestyle, adding they had other business interests apart from their production company.
“The jab from Ms Ndara is petty, unnecessary, and uncalled for.”