Will the 2018 Saftas be a ‘balls-up’?

Johannesburg - Despite announcing its list of nominees at a function on Friday, the controversial state body, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), is only today readvertising the tender to design and produce its glitzy annual SA Film and Television Awards (Saftas) in City Press’ Tenders and Auctions section.

This comes after the original tender was advertised in mid-2017, a short list was drawn up and preferred candidates were interviewed more than once.

But now, all the time and money the industry has spent tendering for the awards, broadcast live on SABC2, has been wasted and the event faces an uphill battle.

The new tender’s closing date is 15 February and, after assessments and interviews, is unlikely to be awarded until early March. The three-day event is to be staged at Sun City from 22 March.

“It’s doable. We are confident it can be pulled off,” said NFVF spokesperson Peter Kwele.

City Press also asked three leading live TV producers if they agreed.

“It may be doable, but it’s unreasonable. Unless a very, very experienced company wins the bid and then works flat out, it will be a balls-up,” said one.

“It’s not good practice. It’s very risky,” said another.

“Just designing and creating the stage takes three weeks. It’s barely possible. A proper event will take at least three months,” said a third, adding: “And what about the time and money the industry spent bidding? We want to know why the tender was withdrawn.”

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When asked, NFVF chief executive Zama Mkosi – the subject of several City Press reports into allegations of mismanagement and splurged funds – told City Press: “We don’t have the budget to do what needed to be done based on the submissions we received. We have had to revise the budget.” The staging of the award show alone costs about R9 million and the entire event is believed to cost R30 million, mostly raised by sponsorship.

But three impeccably placed NFVF sources told City Press no budget was stipulated in the original tender and that council chose a winning bidder but Mkosi and the council chair were not keen to recruit them.

Mkosi denied the claims vehemently: “We don’t have that power as individuals. There was a council resolution that the tender must be withdrawn and readvertised.”

The tender is not the only problem facing the Saftas. Popular soapies Generations: The Legacy and Muvhango are boycotting it this year.

Generations boss Mfundi Vundla said his company doesn’t believe the judging is fair.

“In our view it varies with international standards,” he said, calling for an independent body to sit in on the judging process.

In response, Mkosi outlined various judging options but said “each process has its limitations” and that the industry chose a peer review system. “Within that there are challenges which we have tried to counter to ensure there is no conflict of interest.”

After widespread accusations from staff and media reports about mismanagement of funds and workers, the NFVF was last year the subject of a forensic investigation by the department of arts and culture (DAC). Asked when the report will be released, DAC spokesperson Zimasa Velaphi said: “The investigation team has just finalised it and DAC is considering the report ... before it is submitted to the NFVF chairperson.”

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