Zim 'schoolgirl prostitutes' cartoon sparks fury

2016-02-08 10:25
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Harare - A cartoon in a popular Zimbabwe daily that appeared to suggest women from the south of the country valued sex work more than school grades has sparked outrage.

The Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper says the cartoon was slipped into Thursday's edition without editorial approval.

It has suspended the cartoonist, named on Friday by the paper as Wellington Musapenda.

His cartoon showed two scantily-clad women pointing to a billboard that says students from Matabeleland and Midlands provinces "post worst school results," a reference to recently-released grades for A-level examinations, Zimbabwe's equivalent of matric.

One of them says to the other: "We excel in other areas don't we Thembi?"

Snapshots of the cartoon were shared on social media, prompting an angry response - but also starting a conversation on why grades in those parts of Zimbabwe were lower than in other areas.

Chronicle editor Mduduzi Mathuthu wrote on Friday that the cartoon had "unacceptable sexist and tribal undertones".

He said the cartoonist had sent the cartoon for publication without it first being approved.

"The offensive cartoon, against standing rules, was not submitted for review to any of the four senior editorial executives during the editorial conference," he said.

Matabeleland North province had the worst pass rate in the country at A-level, results released by the national examinations board Zimsec showed last week. Rates of those attaining a Grade E and above were 83.6% for girls and 76.5% for boys, figures that in fact do not appear too alarming since an E is still a pass.

Harare provinces got the best grades.

Zimbabweans have been asking on Twitter if the reason for the lower grades in the south of the country could be to do with the amount of funding devoted to these areas.

The editor of the Herald daily, Caesar Zvayi tweeted: "Good call. Chronicle axes cartoonist after outrage."

More charitably, press watchdog @ZimMediaReview said: "Hopefully there's some remedial action that doesn't involve him losing his job completely."

Read more on:    zimbabwe  |  media  |  southern africa

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