Zapiro cartoon gets SA talking

2008-09-09 13:21

Johannesburg - Cartoonist Zapiro's depiction of the "rape of justice" by ANC president Jacob Zuma continued to draw a mixed reaction on Tuesday while both the Sunday Times and Zapiro said they would not apologise.

An editorial in The Times - the daily version of the Sunday Times - said it was a "shallow interpretation" of the cartoon to accuse cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro of depicting Zuma as a rapist.

"Shapiro has encapsulated in one drawing the biggest threat to South Africa's future - that our justice system will be the sacrificial lamb offered up on the altar of 'our saviour', Zuma," the editorial read.

"The alliance has openly attacked the judiciary, including our highest court, and has announced national strikes and other protests should Zuma's corruption trial proceed.

"They have called for a political solution to the criminal case against Zuma.

"Their willingness to 'kill for Zuma', the strike for Zuma and to mortgage our democracy for Zuma is frightening."

It concluded with "Zuma might be a bit of a joke, but what's being done in his name is definitely not funny."

The Press Ombudsman's Khanye Mndaweni said that although the office had received two calls about the matter on Monday, no formal complaint has been laid yet.

Disrespectful, insulting

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Benzi Ka-Soko said that while he believed Zapiro was the most brilliant cartoonist South Africa had produced, depicting Zuma as a rapist was disrespectful, as well as insulting to the alliance.

"Bluntly put, the cartoon says Zuma and the Alliance are bad for South Africa because they are rapists. In a more graphic way, the cartoon depicts Zuma and his comrades as beasts who think through their penises and that women are never safe near these 'animals'."

He challenged Zapiro to draw something centring on whites' hold over most of the land in South Africa, and judges handing down racist judgments.

"Zapiro Zapped", said The Citizen's front page headline and Sowetan wrote "Readers zap Zuma cartoon".

Readers' opinion varied between feeling that the cartoon undermined Zuma's role as a father to saying that it was "well thought out and to the point".

The Democratic Alliance said the cartoon may just shock South Africa' leaders "to their senses".

"A metaphorical depiction that tells the truth and provokes argument may be just what South Africa needs at this critical juncture. It may also be what is needed to shock the country's leaders into their senses," said Dene Smuts.

Internet debate

The debate on the cartoon spilled onto the internet with the Friends of Jacob Zuma website also taking different positions.

"I think the cartoon by Zapiro in the Sunday Times, though a tad tacky and tasteless, raises some legitimate fears and concerns that we as a nation have regarding the recent attacks on the judiciary by Zuma's cheerleaders," wrote Koos van den Heever of Bloemfontein.

"This Zapiro character is irritating to say the least," wrote Thabo of Sekhukhunye, discussing plans for the region to attend Zuma's Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment on Friday.

"Charles" wrote: "I suggest we stand up and applaud Jonathan Shapiro for his accurate depiction of the current state of affairs."

On Facebook, two sites supporting Zapiro have been created.

Meanwhile, 80% of respondents to a vote on News24 think Zapiro's cartoon was "spot on", while 13% felt it "is just a cartoon" and only six percent felt it "went too far".

The ANC and its alliance partners the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the SACP were dismayed by the cartoon, but a spokesperson for the ANC was not immediately available on Tuesday for an update on how the party intended to proceed with the matter.