The Spear removal unfortunate: DA

2012-05-28 17:08

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Johannesburg - City Press's self-censorship by taking down an image showing genitals on an image of President Jacob Zuma was unfortunate, the DA said on Monday.

"This kind of self-censorship will stop our democracy in its tracks," said Democratic Alliance national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane.

Maimane said whatever anyone might think of the painting, no one had the right to tell any newspaper what to publish, or artist what to paint.

"It is unfortunate that President Zuma and the ANC chose to intimidate the City Press into taking down the painting from its website," he said in a statement.

Caved in

"It is equally unfortunate that the City Press has caved in to this pressure after a valiant attempt to fight for what is right."

Maimane said it should not be forgotten how the apartheid government "bullied its critics in the media".

"Those who stood firm against the bullies carried the torch of media freedom in those dark days. We must keep that flame alive."

Earlier, City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said she had removed the image of The Spear from the publication's website.

"For any editor to respond to a threat to take down an article of journalism without putting up a fight is an unprincipled thing to do, so we’ve fought as much as we could," she said.

"It doesn’t serve City Press or South Africa to dig in our heels and put our fingers in our ears."

Dignity

This came after more than a week of debate, arrests, and an urgent application by the ANC, Zuma and his children to have the image banned on the grounds that it violated his and the party's dignity.

The painting by Brett Murray was defaced last week and the genitals are no longer visible.

The ANC welcomed the removal of the image, but said it still wanted an apology from City Press.

It would carry on with the court case for clarity on the tensions between the rights to dignity, and the right to freedom of expression.

"We appreciate what has been done," said ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu.

"We appreciate that at least Ferial is saying she can now understand the pain. All that we are saying to her, is can she apologise for the pain?" he said.

Pain


"Please apologise to the people of South Africa. This pain has been so deep seated."

The apology should be made to the people of South Africa and the ANC.

"The court must assist us [in showing] how far can those people go who are in the artistic environment [to] violate those rights of those human beings," he said.

Technology news site Memeburn reported that a twitter post under the name of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, was fake.

Haffajee tweeted: "Patrice, the real, called to say @PatriceMotsepe is a fake. His lawyers are onto it. My apologies - it was being RT'd as if the real guy."

Explaining her decision to remove the image, she said she was particularly hurt by the tweet by Motsepe, whom she knew since university.

That tweet read: "Don't expect a painted woman to remove a photo of a man with exposed penis, it helps her get through lonely nights. #thespear".

Memeburn reported this was a fan account and the name had been changed to Tlhopane.
- SAPA

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  city press  |  jacob zuma  |  ferial haffajee  |  mmusi maimane  |  media  |  zuma painting
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