Zapiro 'disappointed' by SABC

2009-05-27 14:26

Cape Town - Cartoonist Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) has slammed the SABC for delaying the broadcast of a documentary on political satire, due to be broadcast on Special Assignment, for the second time.

"What more can one say? The SABC has been a constant disappointment and I naively imagined the show was going to air," he told News24.

The documentary centred on Zapiro's cartoon of President Jacob Zuma attempting to rape "Lady Justice".

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement issued about an hour before the documentary was due to be aired that “ owing to the fact that due process with regards to consultation has not been concluded” it would not be shown.

"Just imagine how the committed journalists who work at the SABC feel who are constantly beaten down - and the public. They've had months of consultation and yet we're still in the dark," said Zapiro.

Damaged credibility

Zapiro believes that the problems at the SABC stem from fear of legal challenges.

"Their notion about damage to the SABC is completely the wrong way round. They're worried about potential lawsuits - but they've done enormous damage to their credibility."

He said that his legal wrangle with Zuma is a worrying sign.

"I'm being sued by the president and it's disturbing - it doesn't give a good signal to the world. It could happen that he would have to come to court and testify against me.

"But I'm not worried about either court case because I'm sure that freedom of expression would trump any argument."

Zapiro is also concerned about statements made by the ANC leadership, including ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema.

"Julius Malema has said some bizarre things and if his views represent the top ANC leadership, then we're in trouble.

Fears of president-for-life

"But what I'm more concerned about is pre-publication censorship and interdicts against newspapers.

"I think there's confusion at the SABC and a power struggle. There are a number of top people who suck up to the notion of what the government would want them to do.

"I haven't seen evidence of orders from (ANC headquarters) Luthuli House, but I feel there're a number of people who don't know what their function is."

Zapiro said that while the situation is far better than during apartheid, when newspapers were banned and he was watched, the signs are "worrying". He's concerned that SA will become an African state with a president-for-life.

"There are people in government and many ANC supporters who push the 'big man syndrome'. I'm accosted on talk shows by people who don't know my history in opposing apartheid."

"I don't feel that I've changed, the direction of the ANC has changed."