UK media tones down on Zuma

2010-03-04 17:07

Johannesburg - Some British media had by Thursday toned down their controversial coverage of President Jacob Zuma's first UK state visit, but instead turned on him for breaches of protocol and royal etiquette.

At the same time, many South African newspapers, often critical of his presidency and his past, rallied around Zuma in their editorials.

The Daily Mail ran an article by Stephen Robinson on Tuesday which called Zuma a "sex-obsessed bigot" and a "vile buffoon" with accompanying pictures of him in traditional Zulu attire. The usually guarded Zuma broke his silence on this and other reports on his polygamy, by complaining he had never disparaged anyone else's culture.

Without commenting directly on Robinson's piece, or apologising, the Daily Mail accused Zuma of an "attack" that had "wrecked his advisers' attempts to coach him about the finer points of royal etiquette" when he commented on the articles.

With continued rumblings on breaches of royal etiquette, and mention of an "unusual double handshake", the publication complained that the men in the Zuma entourage had wandered around Buckingham Palace wearing "football-style scarves in the South African colours over their suits, the women chatted noisily on their mobile phones and used them to take pictures of the furnishings".

Important developing country

The Guardian online said Zuma's arriving in "sensible attire" of dark suit and shoes was him showing that he was a "potent figure on the international stage", in spite of his controversies.

It went on to describe him as head of one of the most important developing countries in the world, the pre-eminent regional powerbroker, and a man who could help solve Britain's quandary over Zimbabwe.

In an article headlined "Zuma visit: 'Thanks for the show, cultural imperialists!'", the UK Independent complained of Zuma's "scathing attack on the British" and said: "Rather than stick to the protocols of a state visit (pomp, splendour and no criticism of either the host or visiting nation) the South African President clearly felt compelled to speak out against what he perceived to be British cultural snobbery".

However, Zuma was defended from an unexpected quarter as a number of newspaper editors in SA rallied behind him.

Business Day's Peter Bruce's found it "appalling" to watch Zuma's reception from sections of the British media.

"The British body politic is without peer when it comes to sex scandals and moral or financial hypocrisy and the sight of leading British newspapers having a go at Zuma for his lapses of virtue is sickening."

Bruce said life in SA under Zuma was "trust us, a lot better than in the UK" and that even if he was imperfect or may be a lousy leader, "he's our lousy leader. We'll deal with him. When UK politicians visit here we'll be sure to treat them with respect."

Erroneous assumption

The Star wrote that SA should not have been surprised by the "viciousness of the attack from those sections of the British press that either make their living in the gutter, or are of such a right-wing persuasion that they have been desperate to see South Africa fail".

The newspaper advised Zuma to ignore the "bigots of the sex-obsessed UK tabloids".

The Sowetan called the reports "cultural chauvinism" and said that while the British and the rest of the world could analyse and criticise anyone "they should rid themselves of the erroneous assumption that they are still a colonial power whose standards and ways are to be accepted as gospel".

But The Times and The Citizen felt Zuma should have taken a different approach to the articles.

The Times said: "You've got to feel for Jacob Zuma", but felt his retort may have soured relations, blaming his media advisors for not handling it better while The Citizen said: "Waving the race card at British journalists won't help".


Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  uk  |  politics

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.