TV: The political risks of satire

2009-04-12 00:00

WITH elections just over a week away, how South Africans talk about their politicians is more crucial than ever.

Political satire has always been an important part of the country’s political debate, even under apartheid. But is a slow chilling effect taking hold of political humour in South Africa? Is political correctness leading to an erosion of free speech? What risks do political satirists run by ridiculing powerful figures?

These questions are raised in this Tuesday night’s edition of Special Assignment on SABC3 at 9.30 pm.

The programme will take a look back at the history of political satire in the country, interview satirists like Pieter-Dirk Uys, who have made the transition from apartheid-era to contemporary satire, and asks a new generation of young comics whether comedy has become depoliticised.

The programme will also look at whether or not attempts are being made to use South Africa’s courts to silence satire, particularly in light of the multi-million rand lawsuit being brought against cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro by ANC president Jacob Zuma, and what this could mean for the rights of artists to lampoon political figures; and it examines the storm around a controversial puppet show, Z-News, which was commissioned by the SABC and shelved before it was broadcast.

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