Mmabatho Montsho demands action from Ramaphosa on financial apartheid, the SABC and exploitation of creatives

Mmabatho Montsho demands action from Ramaphosa on financial apartheid, the SABC and exploitation of creatives

Mmabatho Montsho | Image: Instagram

She noted how the arts were not mentioned in the president’s state of the nation address and said: ‘It is fair to assume there are no plans.’

Prior to this week’s parliamentary chaos, President Cyril Ramaphosa took some time out of his day to congratulate award-winning filmmaker and visual artist Mmabatho Monthso on winning the Best Short Film award at the 2020 Worldwide Women’s Film Festival in Arizona, USA, at the weekend.

“South African creatives are relentlessly making their mark on the world stage and they continue to make us proud. @MmabathoMontsho’s short film The Award Ceremony came back with a Best Short Film award at the 2020 Worldwide Women’s Film Festival. We celebrate this achievement,” tweeted the president.

Seeing that she had his attention, Montsho used the opportunity to air the collective grievances of her media industry peers by threading out an open letter to Ramaphosa after consulting some of her peers.

The full letter reads as follows:

“Dear Mr President,

Upon seeing your tweet congratulating our film, The Award Ceremony for its international win for Best Short Film at The Worldwide Women’s Film Festival, I spoke with some of my colleagues so that the response is collective.

We spoke about how you neglected to include us in your Sona speech so that we can hold you accountable when you do not fulfil your plans for our industry. Since the arts were not mentioned, it is fair to assume there are no plans.

Black filmmakers, black women filmmakers, in particular, should not have to negotiate their souls in order to have access to tell our stories and still make ends meet.

You have not prioritised the SABC which has been in limbo for years. Black practitioners have sat in their homes, in the dark, with no food on the table, while the country watches content they created without getting paid.

M-Net continues to exploit creatives off our intellectual property – our ideas – precisely what makes us storytellers and creatives. We are also aware of the disparity in production budgets between channels with black content (eg. Mzansi) and white content (eg. Kyknet).

This financial apartheid must be unveiled and dealt with.

We have yet to hear sound resolutions or see decisive action from the minister of arts and culture in regards to regulating the industry and the minister of communications in regards to residuals from M-Net. They pretend to listen to us only in the lead up to elections.

Women in the industry still have no recourse regarding sexual harassment and exclusion. There is nowhere to report sexual harassment, intimidation, and exclusion based on gender.

In short, we reach these milestones you celebrate against incredible odds. Please celebrate us by attending to our grievances.”

Monthso’s letter was also shared with Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa by UDM’s Yongama Zigebe shortly after Mthetwa also tweeted a congratulatory message for Monthso.

Neither Ramaphosa nor Mthetwa’s spokespeople were available for comment on whether or not their political systems had seen this letter at the time of publishing.

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