Inflammatory South African cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro, also known as Zapiro, riled up more discontent from the ruling ANC party this week. Zapiro has produced a number of cartoons depicting current South African president, Jacob Zuma, in a number of unflattering lights.
The most recent Zapiro cartoon, printed in the Mail and Guardian publication, depicts the president as a large penis standing in front of a mirror. The caption reads, “Though sex is a publicised sport, Zuma took the dick-painting to court, suing Brett’s free expression, confirmed the impression He’s as big a dick as we thought!”
The quote refers to an uproar from earlier this year when Mr. Zuma took South African painter Brett Murray to court for portraying the leader with his genitalia exposed. The painting was displayed in a local art gallery for many weeks. The piece of artwork was vandalized by two Zuma supporters and the painting was removed after the court case.
Now Zapiro has started up where Bretty Murray left off, though with a bit more incendiary commentary. Many of Zapiro’s current cartoons portray Mr. Zuma with a shower spout coming out of the top of his head. This imagery is meant to remind readers of a trial a few years ago at which the president was accused of rape. The political leader stated during the trial that he took a shower after sexual activity to reduce his chances of contracting HIV, the BBC reports.
The African National Congress, Mr. Zuma’s party, has utterly condemned Zapiro’s rash of outspoken cartoons. In a press statement released on the ANC’s website this week the party stated:
As the ANC, we are taken aback by this so-called cartoon and comment by Zapiro. We find it unacceptable and shocking that after the harsh experiences that South Africa, the President and his family has experienced few weeks ago, that Zapiro and the Mail and Guardian will find it appropriate to continue with the insults and hurt to the President, his family and the broader ANC constituency.
The statement goes on to say:
As the ANC, we won’t rest until we ensure that the likes of Zapiro and the Mail and Guardian fully understand that their so-called journalistic creativity is a disservice to the unity and cohesion of our country. If Zapiro and the Mail and Guardian cared enough to participate at the National Social Cohesion Summit held this week, hosted by government, they would have understood he [sic] clarion call by all participants that this type of the so-called creative work does not belong to a democratic South Africa and that the unity and cohesion of our country is [more] important than the obsession to insult the image of President Zuma and the image of South Africa.
Critics of Zuma have condemned him for suing media outlets 11 times over the years for defamation. The president has also been accused of raping a family friend in 2006. Zuma, his family and supporters all feel that these attacks on the president only foment dissent and unrest in a country with tense racial issues. Mr. Zuma currently has a number of lawsuits running against newspapers who have published incendiary and embarrassing portrayals of him.
Photo Credit: Boberger