News24

SABC's Zapiro show on M&G site

2009-05-27 16:48

Johannesburg - An SABC documentary on political satire featuring cartoonist Zapiro was on Wednesday posted on the Mail & Guardian's website after two aborted attempts to air it.

The Special Assignment episode appears on the website without narration or voiceover, suggesting that what had been posted may not be the final version of the show.

It has interviews with Zapiro, the pen-name of cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, and ANC spokesperson Jesse Duarte.

Perhaps most significantly, it shows a Zapiro cartoon of then-ANC president Jacob Zuma about to rape a depiction of 'Lady Justice' while she is held down by his political allies. That cartoon unleashed a storm of controversy at the time of its publication, as Zuma was involved in a court bid to have his corruption charges dropped.

In defence of the cartoon, Zapiro says: "Many of the things I had said in that cartoon had been said in print for months... but when that image appeared all hell broke loose."

Zapiro is currently being sued by Zuma for libel. Zuma contends the cartoons are an attack on his dignity.

Duarte appears to defend the Zuma's legal action and his large damages claim.

"There's no value one can put to human rights and human dignity. So executing the highest possible punitive measure is important.

"It is not okay to draw Jacob Zuma with a shower on his head."

Zapiro began depicting Zuma with a shower on his head following his acquittal on a rape charge in 2006. Zuma testified that he had had unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman and took a shower afterwards to minimise the risk of HIV infection.

"Jonathan Shapiro took a comment in a court case out of context, and began to put a derogatory image of the president of the ANC with a shower coming out of his head and thought it would be funny," Duarte said.

The programme was suspended for a second time on Tuesday evening. In a short statement released an hour before the show was scheduled to be broadcast, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: "Tonight's episode of Special Assignment will not be aired owing to the fact that due process with regards to consultation has not been concluded.

"Because of the problems encountered previously with this particular episode, the acting group CEO Mr Gab Mampone in his capacity as editor-in-chief will need to make the final sign-off."