Soapie producer plays down row claims

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Duma Ndlovu, the creator of the country's second-most popular soapie, has dismissed allegations by some of the soapie's former stars that the Muvhango house is not in order.

In a wide-ranging interview with Sowetan, the former journalist-turned-playwright and soapie producer, said that "the family of Muvhango" does not take such allegations seriously as they are from bitter artists who had been dismissed from the soapie for impropriety.

In recent years, particularly as the soapie became more popular, a number of actors had received negative publicity for their shenanigans off-stage.

Last week Muvhango was in the news again when Mara Louw, who plays the role of Catherine and has been with the soapie since its inception, told Sowetan she was leaving the series over her dissatisfaction about a salary cut.

Ndlovu said that Muvhango as an "African family" adult soapie has certain standards of behaviour expected from its actors off-stage.

"That is why Muvhango holds annual workshops for our actors to teach them values and how to handle themselves off-stage."

It was at one of these workshops that one of our reporters suffered a mouthful tirade and a wrathful performance from Mara Louw.

Ndlovu said: "The truth is that some of the young people, and others not that young, tend to change when they become famous, and therefore are not prepared to handle the public focus on them."

But Ndlovu is no angel and clearly has a hold on his actors. When some were asked to comment on the Louw issue, they all maintained a why-ask-me stance and chose not to speak before clearing it with "Gatsheni".

Sindi Dlathu, the soapie's golden girl, spoke highly of Louw even though impeccable sources say no one has been on the receiving end of Louw's wrath more than Dlathu.

Ndlovu said: "I know that I have a dominant personality, and in a way can influence some of the actors in a certain way.

"For example, in the cast we have an actor Sindy Dlathu, who I have groomed over the years on the soapie.

"Today she is one of the most balanced members of the cast worth emulating."

Ndlovu did not want to address the issue of Mara Louw specifically, but said: "I cannot always go to the newspapers to defend my decisions whenever an actor is fired and goes to the papers to smear the production and its management. For example, some of the things that we know about these actors would be shocking if we divulged them to the newspapers.

"My principle as an African coming from a Black Consciousness background is to build Africans and not to destroy them.

"I have taken some of the youngsters from nowhere and made them stars.

"That is my mission, to build," he said.

Muvhango was created in 1997 and is screened four times a week on SABC2.