Cast angry over unkept promises

2015-12-02 06:00
PHOTO:file Umkhonto Wabantu cast has not been paid since their theatrical production was screened at the Winston Churchill theatre in July.

PHOTO:file Umkhonto Wabantu cast has not been paid since their theatrical production was screened at the Winston Churchill theatre in July.

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FOUR months after Umkhonto Wabantu, a musical drama, was screened at Winston Churchill theatre, 42 cast members are taking Mfenendala Communications to court because they have not been paid.

The musical drama highlights the role played by struggle heroes in bringing about liberation­ and was screened in July, under the belief that the Premier’s office had funded R1.7 million towards the project.

The production is the brainchild of Amanda Xaba, who runs Mfenendala Communications, and is the granddaughter of the late Sobantu struggle stalwart Anton “Mfenendala” Xaba.

The unhappy cast members believe that Xaba­ allegedly blocked them from communicating with her.

Playwright Mzi Mngadi said he is furious over unkept promises after he had to write two scripts as one had to accommodate the Zimbabwean audience because there were plans to take the production Zimbabwe. Play director Thulani Mngadi said their mistake was to think that everything was in order after being shown a letter, with the Premier’s office logo.

He said after attempts to get answers from the Premier’s office since August, they were told that no funding had been issued.

“All along we knew the project had been funded as we were even given contracts by Mfenendala Communications stipulating that the highest paid would receive about R22 000 and the lowest about R2 000. We were promised we would get paid in July, but July ended up being August, then we were told that there was a delay from the Premier’s office.

Mngadi said they finally got hold of the woman responsible for projects at the Premier’s office, and were told that the proposal had not been approved yet.

“We are now thinking of taking the legal route as some of the actors had to leave their jobs to focus on the project. She has used us.” Xaba said: “The Premier’s office had written a support letter that they were going to sponsor the project, but they did not give out the exact figures because they have their own confidentiality clause.The members did not sign any contracts but it was written agreements on how they are going to be paid. I have blocked them on social networks because of unprofessional behaviour and have even approached my lawyer because I feel my safety has been compromised following threats.

“I’m liaising with the Premier’s office and they will only be paid once the sponsor has paid.”

Provincial government spokesperson Thami Ngwenya said they are still to investigate the matter.

“The practise though would be that any support provided will be explicityly stated as such. It could have been that the concept was viewed as good and was believed to advance ideals of deepening democracy, social cohesion and building a prosperous society.

“Hoewever if there is no concrete commitment and written support that expresses the terms of support and resources, it thus can’t be said the office of the Premier committed resources.Generally, projects that advance the agenda of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and cohesive society are positively considered.”

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