Thami Mngqolo and Zolisa Xaluva
who play Senzo and Jason

The producers of Generations, South Africa’s biggest soap series, have denied rumours that fired communications minister Dina Pule had ordered the SABC to tone down its gay storyline.

According to Channel 24, there has been speculation that Pule wanted the show to get rid of its gay married couple, ad executives Senzo (Thami Mngqolo) and Jason (Zolisa Xaluva).

“Nobody has said anything to us and those characters are definitely not going anywhere. Fans must keep watching and can look forward to very interesting storylines,” a spokesperson for Generations said.

“We’re still proceeding with their story and telling the story which has originally been there,” an inside source added.

“The gay couple is still there. If the rumours were true, what does that say to people who are gay? That they’re not supposed to be allowed to exist or have a story? Generations started a story of a gay couple a while back and that story is ongoing and will keep evolving.”

Senzo and Jason have been controversial since they were introduced into the series, but have managed to survive onslaughts from conservative viewers, politicians and former cast members.

In 2009, there was a furore after the show broadcast a kiss between the two characters. A Facebook group named “We will stop watching Generations if Senzo and Jason continue kissing” emerged and quickly saw over 20,000 people sign up.

The kiss also drew criticism from gay viewers for being pre-empted by an on-screen warning that the episode could include scenes that could “offend” some viewers.

In 2010, the PAC’s youth wing, the Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania, attacked the soapie. It said that “Africa is not the home of gays and lesbians” and asserted that Generations had “declared war with African cultures and practices”.

Last year, Xaluva, who plays the character of Jason, told Sunday World that much of the opposition to the gay storyline “has died down now”.

He added: “There has been acceptance that homosexuality is a reality and there are things one can’t change and must accept”.

That didn’t stop actor Mike Mvelase, who played the role of Khaphela Ngcobo in Generations for ten years, from slamming the gay storyline.

“The writers of Generations are sending out the wrong message. What lessons are they teaching our kids with the characters of Senzo and Jason?” he told the Daily Sun last year.

“In our constitution, gays and lesbians have rights but I feel it paints a bad picture for parents who must explain to their children why a boy is married to another boy. When you show a five-year-old boy that it’s cool for a boy to kiss another boy, what exactly are you teaching him?”

Generations executive producer Mfundi Vundla responded: “Mike, like all citizens in our democratic society, is entitled to his views but millions of viewers have made us the number one series in the country.”

Generations was launched in 1994 and attracts over seven million viewers per episode.

Pule was dumped from the Cabinet by President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, following allegations of inappropriate conduct and misuse of funds.

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