Mhlanga cracks head over actors’ royalties

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AMAKHOSI Theatre director and veteran playwright Cont Mhlanga is embroiled in a messy fight with local actors over royalties for Nyaminyami, a political series reportedly sponsored by the disbanded Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic).

DIVINE DUBE
Own Correspondent

The series exploring political polarisation, intolerance, violence and its consequences was aimed at peace-building ahead of the July 31 polls which observers feared could be characterised by violence.

But the sitcom produced by Mhlanga never saw the light of day despite its completion last year.

In an interview with Southern Eye Lifestyle last month Mhlanga blamed the setbacks on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation which he claimed had sabotaged the screening of the series.

Despite claims the production had been bankrolled by Jomic, Mhlanga, it has emerged has not paid artistes.

Actors who spoke to Southern Eye Lifestyle at the weekend accused Mhlanga of abusing them and threatened to take him to court over unpaid allowances.

“We have already approached human rights lawyers because talks with Mhlanga have yielded nothing.”

“Jomic told us they gave Mhlanga money to pay us but he has not given us anything to date,” one artiste who featured in the series confided to Southern Eye Lifestyle on condition of anonymity.

“Whenever we ask him about our money he threatens us and tells us to do what we want.”

Actors also alleged that Mhlanga used his seniority in the arts industry to exploit them.

However, Mhlanga vehemently denied the accusations and lashed out at artistes for “seeking intervention of the press”.

“It is not true! We have been paying them (actors),” he charged. “Those who have not been paid are very few.”

“Actors must desist from approaching newspapers when they have issues with producers. They can approach the National Arts Council or The Actors’ Equity so that their issues could be addressed amicably,” Mhlanga advised.

Mhlanga rubbished claims the production had been fully funded by Jomic, but former Jomic communications manager Jorum Nyathi told Southern Eye Lifestyle last month the production was wholly funded by his organisation and Jomic was contemplating donating it to ZBC/TV.