Zuma: City Press dislikes me

2012-05-22 10:28

President Jacob Zuma says City Press was not “constitutionally entitled or obliged” to publish the image of Brett Murray’s controversial painting of him, which depicts his exposed genitals.

In his replying affidavit filed at the South Gauteng High Court today, Zuma also responded to the newspaper’s assertion that the painting may be regarded as legitimate comment due to the president’s admissions to having had sex with women who are not his wives, his relationship with Schabir Shaik, and his handling of the Richard Mdluli saga.

“It is clear from the allegations set out in this paragraph that the antipathy by some people towards me such as the [City Press] has driven them to the belief that I am not worthy of any respect and that I should, therefore, be stripped of all dignity.

“It will be argued at the hearing of this matter that not even the perpetrators of the most horrendous crimes have been stripped of their inherent right to dignity,” Zuma says.
The newspaper’s executive editor, Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya, wrote in his affidavit that other world leaders have been painted naked – including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who was depicted as a reclining nude in Margaret Sutherland’s work, Emperor Haute Couture.

But Zuma says the reference to that painting is “unhelpful” and “ignores the South African context”.

“South Africa is a diverse nation still in transition from the era of apartheid when black people were shown utmost disrespect and indignity to the total restoration of their self-worth,” he said.

Zuma also acknowledged Murray’s opposition to apartheid, saying that not all his work was “objectionable”.

“I agree that he has produced commendable works in challenging the status quo during apartheid and further that he must continue to offer critical commentary through his work in the era of constitutional democracy.

“My contention is that artists and social commentators must draw the line between fair and justifiable comment and offensive commentary that infringes a person’s inherent right to dignity,” he said.

Zuma also commented on the article written by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee in which she wrote that this was South Africa – not Afghanistan where the giant statues of the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban.

“I submit that the [City Press’s] editor’s comparison of this situation with the attitude of the Afghan, Taliban rulers, to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan ‘because the art did not conform to what the rulers believed it should be’ is totally inappropriate.

“I have never, nor has the [ANC] ever, advocated the destruction of art, even that which has been inherited from the apartheid era,” he wrote.

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