Vundla defies the SABC

2013-11-03 14:00

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Actors’ new contract terms lead to a fallout.

Generations boss Mfundi Vundla and the SABC are on a ­collision course after he allegedly defied the broadcaster’s ­demand that he offer his cast blanket contracts containing no “punitive” clauses.

Tensions are so high between Vundla and SABC bosses that some officials are threatening to terminate the corporation’s contract with Vundla’s production company, Morula Pictures, which produces the soapie.

City Press understands that on Monday, the SABC ­instructed Vundla to offer his cast three-year contracts and to remove the clauses that gave him the right to fire them ­before the three years expired.

The corporation asked the cast to put in writing the clauses they wanted removed from their new contracts and submit those to Vundla on Thursday.

But Vundla is believed to have dismissed their demands as “unreasonable” during a heated meeting with the actors’ ­lawyers at the soapie studios in Auckland Park.

However, Vundla has hit back, saying that the SABC did not have any grounds to terminate its contract with his ­company because there was no dispute between them.

Vundla said on Friday: “The problem is with the cast ­members because they want to be treated like bank employees with certain privileges and we can’t do that. That is not how it works in the television industry.

“That is why we rejected their so-called discussion ­document because it was like an employee-and-employer kind of contract. This is an ­independent contract and, unfortunately, those lawyers do not understand that.”

Insiders said that Vundla’s decision to dismiss the actors’ demands did not go down well with the corporation.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior SABC official said the broadcaster was not impressed by Vundla’s decision because it was akin to defying the corporation’s instruction.

“They held a meeting with him and the cast members on Monday, and a decision was taken that he should give them the three-year contract without those clauses. We were surprised when we read in the media that he had a plan B ­because he and the cast members couldn’t find each other. What plan B is he talking about? This (Generations) is not his property; it is our property,” said the official.

The plan B that Vundla referred to, which he confirmed to City Press, involved writing the entire cast and their characters out of the show and replacing them with new faces.

But this plan had senior executives fuming. The senior SABC official said the broadcaster had the power to terminate the contract with Vundla’s production company if he did not toe the line.

“We can take it and give it to other production houses if this matter is not resolved accordingly. We see this thing going to court. Either the SABC or Vundla will go the legal route because we cannot afford this mess any more,” said the ­official.

The official also said the corporation had instructed Vundla to sign the three-year deals with the actors without any ­punitive clauses for bad performance after the mediation talks between him and the cast had failed.

“Now we read about plan B in the newspapers. What is that?” asked the incensed official.

Vundla confirmed that he had rejected his cast’s demands at Thursday’s meeting, but denied that he was defying the corporation.

“We have agreed to give them three-year contracts, but we still want to reserve the right to write out an actor if we feel that there is a dramatic need to do so, or if an actor is not performing,” he said.

“We also want to have sole discretion as producers to write out an actor if we feel there is another actor who can do the job and garner more viewers for the soapie. We would give notice of 14 weeks to the affected actor and have always been doing so in the past. So there is nothing new.”

In a statement, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: “The SABC would like to indicate that it has intervened in the process and the acting COO (Hlaudi Motsoeneng) is now leading the process.

“We believe that there is progress and the parties have ­started talking to each other this week. We hope to resolve this issue soon,” said Kganyago.

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