More black scriptwriters needed for TV and theatre

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

The South African Script Writers' Union (Saswu) is campaigning for the transformation of the television and film industry.

The union, formerly known as the South African Script Writers' Association, said it wanted to transform the film and television industry by developing and increasing the number of black scriptwriters.

Basil Dube, secretary-general and national coordinator of Saswu, said: "There are too few black scriptwriters for television and film, and that must change.

"The main idea is to transform the sector.

"It is also critical that we encourage more black writers to write in African languages."

Dube said the union will protect its members from being exploited.

"Writers should be protected before engaging in contracts and they must know their rights. The union must engage both independent and SABC producers about the issue."

He said Saswu, which has 1000 members who are established writers in television, radio and the theatre, is negotiating with the SABC's scriptwriters.

"The aim is to unionise most of them," he said.

Dube said Saswu was unionising scriptwriters because that would help them overcome the inequalities of the past and would support the South African transformation agenda.

"We are planning to open branches of the union in North West, Mpumalanga, the Free State, Northern Cape and Limpopo."

Saswu was formed to help scriptwriters acquire the skills essential for their survival in a competitive market.

Its goal is to promote South African theatre, radio programmes, films, television dramas and soapies.

It is committed to maintaining the quality of the scripts written in South Africa.

"That is why we are conducting nationwide training sessions and workshops that target beginners, intermediates and professional scriptwriters for both television and films," Dube said.