But the national broadcaster says the only reason Dlamini, 29, has not been delivering the weather forecast is that they did not renew her contract. A familiar face for millions of SABC1 viewers, Dlamini has been a Ndebele weather presenter for the past three years. The popular television presenter was last on air in March and was supposed to return to work on June 23.
Since last year she said she has repeatedly complained to manager Santa Baasch about the senior staffer’s overbearing and dehumanising demands. She was particularly aggrieved by his regular criticism of the way she dressed. “I cannot be made to go to the man’s office and show him how I am dressed every day,” protested Dlamini.
“His complaint about my use of the language amounts to ethnic discrimination. “I may not have an isiNdebele surname, but I grew up with Ndebele people and I speak the language fluently.”
Dlamini also acts in many local television drama series on SABC’s Ikwekwezi FM in which she speaks in isiNdebele. She is currently starring in Osemsamo Limphosa Emnyago, which airs on weekdays at 7.45pm.
Dlamini said her line manager, Baasch, had sent an SMS asking her to sign a new contract by June 23, but that she had not done so. Baasch responded – again by SMS – saying: “Hi Lebo, you have been off for three months. Previously you had problems with *(name removed) and language issues. You must make a decision whether you want to continue or move on. I will have no choice but to cancel the new contract for now.”
Dlamini said apart from the SMS messages from Baasch she had not received any formal correspondence from the SABC regarding either her complaint or the status of her contract.
Yesterday Baasch declined to comment on the matter. SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “The SABC can confirm that Dlamini is an independent contractor and her contract with the SABC expired on June 30.
“We can also confirm that a formal grievance was not lodged with the SABC’s human resources division and therefore cannot comment further on the matter.”
Dlamini, a mother of two, said: “I still need that job, but I am scared.”