Censors to decide whether Zuma painting is suitable for children to view

2012-05-22 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s censors will decide today whether a controversial painting of Jacob Zuma should be classified as pornographic and moved to a corner of the Goodwin Gallery away from children.

This as the ANC goes to court later this morning to try and force the gallery not to display it and City Press newspaper to remove it from its website.

Film and Publications Board spokesperson Prince Mlimandlela Ndamase said last night the classifiers went to the gallery yesterday, after weekend complaints from the public.

“The classification is not completed … so we can’t give it a rating yet. Once the evaluation report is submitted we will then decide whether to have it removed to a certain area within the gallery where children cannot view it because it is pornographic.

“We can’t say it must not be viewed, but we can put some restrictions in place to protect children,” he said.

The ANC, meanwhile, has mobilised its supporters to turn out in full force outside the high court in Johannesburg where the urgent application will be heard at about noon. Supporters have been urged to “defend the dignity, reputation and integrity” of Zuma.

Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the party viewed the painting as “distasteful, vulgar, indecent and disrespectful”.

The statement follows weekend calls by the Young Communist League general secretary Buti Manamela for members to march to the gallery and tear down the painting.

Manamela told Eye Witness News yesterday: “We are supportive of court proceedings, but in our view there has to be some action. There has to be some display of disgust.”

While SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande said Manamela’s call could not be taken literally, he said the statement was “reflective of the anger”.

The painting was “an extreme act of provocation”.

Nzimande said the artist, Brett Murray, was taking the “generosity of the millions of us” for granted.

At a post-ANC national executive committee meeting briefing yesterday, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe did not mince his words. “It’s rude, it’s crude, it’s violent, it’s disrespectful”.

He said if black artists were “mobilised” to depict a white politician in a similar way, the outcry would have been very different.

“No matter what the court says, that picture is racism. We have not outgrown racism in 18 years.”

Mantashe said the ANC would abide by the court’s decision, although it could criticise it if necessary.

He said the painting had “polarised society” along racial lines.

“People who use their freedom of expression without responsibility, are irresponsible,” he said.

“I said how about the idea of going to court tomorrow and as we sit there we can take off our trousers. We can walk around with our genitals hanging out, it’s crude,” he said.

Others who expressed outrage yesterday included Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, the Black Management Forum, the SMME Forum and the SA Students’ Congress.

The SA Human Rights Commission’s Lawrence Mushwana told the SABC it had launched a preliminary inquiry.

See also pages 6 & 7

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