Defend Zuma’s dignity at court – ANC

2012-05-21 15:13

The ANC has called on members and supporters to go to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg tomorrow to show its support for President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC has launched a court application for an urgent interdict to force the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg to take down a painting depicting Zuma with his genitals hanging out of his trousers, and City Press to remove the image from its website.

The party’s spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, said in a statement people should gather in front of the court ahead of the hearing, due to start at noon, to “defend the dignity, reputation and integrity” of Zuma.

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

This followed calls by the Young Communist League for its supporters to march to the gallery on Thursday and tear down the painting by Brett Murray entitled The Spear.

Young Communist League general secretary Buti Manamela made the call over the weekend and is set to brief the media tomorrow about the details of the action.

He said he could not allow the painting to remain on exhibition, Eyewitness News reported today.

“We are supportive of court proceedings, but in our view there has to be some actions. There has to be some display of disgust.”

But SACP general-secretary Blade Nzimande said Manamela’s call could not be taken literally “although the statement is reflective of the anger”.

He said the painting was “an extreme act of provocation”.

Nzimande said he was at his mother’s 85th birthday party on Sunday and it was difficult to discuss the issue because in the community where he came from it was unacceptable to even talk about genitals.

He said he didn’t know “from which world you would have to be” to like the painting, and, implying the painting was racist, said the artist was taking the “generosity of the millions of us” for granted.

Nzimande said the court action was good but “not enough”.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe earlier today told journalists at a briefing on the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting the painting was racist. “It’s rude, it’s crude, it’s violent, it’s disrespectful”.

He said a march on the gallery wouldn’t be violence, but it was merely a reaction on the painting.

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

He said the NEC approved of the ANC’s intended court action, but “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, but the party was still allowed to criticise the judgement. He said the painting had “polarised society” along racial lines, something that was evident on radio talk shows. “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. Meanwhile the Film and Publication Board visited the gallery to determine if The Spear was pornographic.
View the story "ANC goes to court over Zuma’s jewels" on Storify

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