The outgoing president of the Creative Workers Union of South Africa, Mabutho "Kid" Sithole, says it is time for women to lead the union.
Sithole, a seasoned actor and comedian who has been president of the CWUSA for 11 years, is stepping down at the union's national congress, which is scheduled for November 23 and 24 at Music Africa, in Johannesburg.
Though he was not willing to reveal which candidates were vying for the position, Sithole says there are many young people and women capable of leading the union.
"It is time for me to step down before I make blunders thinking I am a guru," Sithole said. "I have done my bit and someone else has to take over.
"We need to give young people a chance to lead the union and take it forward."
CWUSA acting general secretary, Eugene Mthethwa adds: "This time we want to see women taking up positions in the leadership - men have been running the union for too long, it is time for a woman's leadership"
Sithole says the biggest challenge in running the union has been a lack of resources. He says the few cents they get through membership fees goes to administration and stipends.
"We also face the challenge of increasing membership and attracting young actors and musicians," he says.
Sithole started leading the union while it was known as the Performing Arts Workers Equity.
He says the highlight of his career was succeeding in getting the SABC to compensate actors for repeat programmes. Previously actors were not paid royalties for re-runs, while production houses were.
Though Sithole praises the union, some members feel the CWUSA is not doing enough in fighting for their rights. They want the union to make sure they have access to funding from the government.
"We have done that as a union. In 2010 when FIFA wanted to host a festival (at the World Cup ceremonies) dominated by international stars, more local musicians were added to the line-up through our intervention."
Mthethwa says some of the burning issues that will be discussed at the coming congress include social security for all industry stakeholders, needle-time rights and local content.
The bone of contention in the industry is that if needle-time rights are taken care of by the South African Music Rights Organisation, there will be no need for artists to join the union and unionists argue that they are more suitable to fight for the rights of artists.
"We are not happy with needle-time, which is also known as pay-per-play. They are dividing the industry.
"We also want to see the percentage of local music played on the radio increased from 48% to 100%. We don't understand why international music gets 52% ."
He says in a bid to attract young stakeholders the union will unveil plans at the congress to make membership free.
CWUSA will also open a wing that focuses on creating work for its members.
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