Cape Town – Production will resume today on SABC2's Muvhango
after a 3-day shutdown in which the production company blamed the SABC for not
paying it for two months.
On Friday afternoon production stopped after Word of Mouth Productions told the prime time soap's crew, cast and writers who were not paid for two months in October and November that the "SABC did not have money to pay them".
In prime time, the public broadcaster's Venda weekday soap lured 5.62 million viewers in October as SABC2's most-watched show and the 5th most-watched show overall on South African television.
Last week Muvhango told the SABC that it's shutting down production with no further work being done by the writers, cast and crew.
Leo Phiri, Muvhango's line manager, told the crew and cast in an email last week that "In the absence of a payment guarantee, we have sent correspondence to notify the broadcaster that we will be shutting down production at 14:00 this afternoon Friday 30 November 2019 and we will re-open when we have been paid. Sincere apologies for this unfortunate development".
In more emails, Muvhango said that the production company has been "in constant communication with various players at the SABC responsible for our payment but have not received assurances that payment will be made on time to reflect in everyone's accounts".
Muvhango told the cast and crew that the production "will be shutting down and will only re-open when we have been paid".
An insider told Channel24 that "the Muvhango writers have been waiting for payment for work delivered for two months already, and now it's going into a third month - over Christmas!"
Writers were told they would be paid for September and November on Tuesday, 3 December after they got some payment in October. Muvhango producers reportedly met with SABC executives on Friday evening.
Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, told Channel24 that the Muvhango shutdown is not the SABC's fault, that the production had been paid and that the soap has in fact been renewed for another season already.
"The SABC can confirm that the corporation has met all its financial obligations for the current series of Muvhango which will be on air until 2 January 2020".
"In addition, the SABC has concluded a new contract with Word of Mouth Productions for the new series of Muvhango which will broadcast from 3 January 2020. It is imperative to state that the SABC pays the production house, which has a responsibility to pay its cast and crew."
Channel24 has reached out to Mouth Productions and Muvhango publicist Karabo Disethle-Mtshayelo for comment. No comment was received at the time of publishing. The story will be update when we have received comment.