Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Production shuts down on SABC2's Muvhango after crew and cast goes unpaid by the SABC for 2 months.
by Thinus Ferreira
The crew, writers and cast of SABC2's most-watched show, Muvhango, has stopped working after Word of Mouth Productions shut down production because the South African public broadcaster once again failed to pay Word of Mouth Productions.
SABC executives last had a meeting with Muvhango producers in a Friday evening meeting after the SABC failed to pay the production company for the past 2 months.
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.
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 TVwithThinus saw 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 reopen 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 SABC that the production "will be shutting down and will only re-open when we have been paid".
An insider said that "the Muvhango writers have been waiting for payment for work delivered for 2 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.
TVwithThinus was told that Muvhango producers met with SABC executives on Friday evening.
Muvhango publicist Karabo Disethle Mtshayelo said the payment and shutdown chaos is the fault of the South African public broadcaster and said the SABC has to comment.
TVwithThinus asked the SABC for comment on Tuesday evening with the response that will be added here when or if received.
UPDATE Wednesday 4 December 2019 14:20:
Mmoni Seapolelo, SABC spokesperson, says: "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."