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Soap opera hunts for lifeline

Itai Mushekwe

POPULAR television soap opera, Small House Saga, is caught up in a Catch 22 position owing to a serious financial crisis that threatens to scuttle

the launch of its second screening season next year.

Corporate sponsorship for the soap that has sent viewers’ tongues wagging since its inception has not been forthcoming.

The soap, which is fairly new on Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) is staring at a depleting balance sheet and rang the alarm bells for salvation last week during a meeting with journalists at its ESP studios in Harare.

Nomhle Mthupha, executive director of the soap told independentxtra that the television production has been getting funding from in-house coffers which are now drying up and only an urgent rescue package from the corporate world would pull them out of the woods.

“We urgently need funding,” said Mthupha.

“Apparently, sponsorship from the corporate world has not been forthcoming and that will leave us in trouble as the soap may fail to run for its second season next year. Corporate sponsors seem to be shying away saying that film on its own talks about social problems, which is something that they don’t deal with. They would rather pour their monies into football, because they feel our programme is controversial as sponsoring it might be wrongly interpreted by the viewers to mean that the company celebrates and supports ‘small houses’.”

Mthupa said the soap, according to ZTV, now commands a viewership of two million and businesses could take advantage of the massive following to showcase their products.

She added that overtures had been made to various companies which have indicated that they would only be in a position to support the soap next year when they draw up their new budgets although none of them had displayed optimism.

Nobert Fero, the soap director, said they wanted to maintain a high-quality product different from all the other soaps on television, a goal that can only be realised through adequate financial resources.

“We want the project to be different from all the other programmes on television,” said Fero.

“Television is about images. Gone are the days when we were fed mediocre stuff, we want to produce a high-quality product and we have managed to do so through internal funding for 39 episodes.”

Asked if they had devised a contingency measure to enable continuity in the event of failure to secure a sponsor, Mthupha said: “One way or the other we’re going to fight to remain on air”.

The Small House Saga addresses issues of promiscuity and lust among married couples who engage in extra-marital affairs, causing a breakdown to the family unit.

Men have often been blamed for being the chief culprits especially after amassing wealth to a stage that they tend to prove their virility by picking on mistresses.

However, the soap also reveals that women are equal offenders as some end up settling for young men whom they call “pain-killers” as a form of retaliation against their husbands’ waywardness.

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