Zuma is no paragon of virtue: Haffajee

2012-05-18 15:43

Johannesburg - Asking City Press to remove a picture of a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed from its website would be censorship, editor Ferial Haffajee said on Friday.

"As journalists worth our salt, we can’t. Besides, the horse has bolted. We published on Sunday," said Haffajee on the paper's website after the ANC demanded that the picture of Brett Murray's painting The Spear be removed.

The red-yellow and black painting depicts Zuma mimicking a pose by Vladimir Lenin in a Soviet era propaganda poster, but with his penis exposed.

"The man driving this latest nail into the ANC’s commitment to free expression is Jackson Mthembu, who was recently arrested for drunk driving at 07:00 on a busy highway.

"He is no paragon of virtue and neither is our president, who has done more to impugn his own dignity than any artist ever could.

"But mostly, I will not have my colleagues take down that image because the march away from progressive politics to patriarchal conservatism is everywhere."

A group in the newspaper's office had wanted the picture to lead their arts section, but too many people in the office had objected on grounds that ranged from it being a family paper, to concerns about dignity and cultural values.

We are Mzansi, not Afghanistan

Instead, it was run inside the newspaper, covering his "indignity" with a price tag.

The Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, which was hosting the exhibition, also refused a request by the ANC to remove the painting and destroy printed promotional material.

The ANC said if these requests were not met, they would go to court to have the painting removed, the image taken off the website and printed material destroyed.

Haffajee said although the Constitution protected artistic expression as a subset of free expression, it was not going to be tested by "still-lifes of bowls of flowers".

She stated upfront that her objection to removing the picture is her own, and she didn't expect her colleagues to accept it.

South Africa is "sexually aware, satirically sussed and progressive" with a president known for having many wives.

"I’m tired of the people who desire to kill ideas of which they do not approve. Besides, our morality and good practice is selective.

She added: "We are Mzansi after all, not Afghanistan, where they bulleted [sic] the Buddhas of Bamiyan because the art did not conform to what the rulers believed it should be."

Hafajjee said she would not hang the painting in her lounge though.

  • Lourenzo - 2012-05-18 15:51

    Everyone please download a pic for your archive you might not get a chance to.Mr DICKtator is going to court

      JaredVN - 2012-05-18 15:59

      Will he really? Being the butt of jokes about a painting is one thing, but it's far more serious to be accused of corruption. What is really interesting to me is that Zuma has done all he can to avoid staying out of court about the corruption allegations which, if untrue, are very serious libel and slander.

      Gavin - 2012-05-18 15:59

      dicktator - lol ! very apt indeed.

      Alan - 2012-05-18 17:02

      (Alan2) Yes, love the DICKtator bit. The painting and the exhibition has really PRICKED the ANC's conscience and given it the WILLIES. This is really using art as a TOOL against the COCK-UP that the ANC has become. Must go now it's Friday so, so SCHLONG for now.

      Alastair - 2012-05-18 17:30

      Oh Alan, you have proved the PENISmightier than the sword

      EricksonTL - 2012-05-18 21:23

      It's on the net. Too late.

      TaniaSandraSteyn - 2012-05-19 06:20

      Jared, for his own sake, he must stay President for as long as he can. As soon as he steps down, charges can be brought against him.

  • Gavin - 2012-05-18 15:58

    when you act like a clown, don't be surprised if people make 'fun' of you.

      Marius - 2012-05-18 16:50

      If I remember correctly the British Press started by calling JZ a "Buffoon". Very accurate description.

  • Simphiwe - 2012-05-18 16:04

    Why is this PENIS so important? Is it because it belongs to the president? There are other important issues to focuss on.

      TSOTSI Smilification - 2012-05-18 16:08

      Shm... It's not just the penis. It's what the art collection represents...

      Gerhard - 2012-05-18 16:35

      Simp tell him. The whole of SA laughs about JZ every week and his cabinet ministers laugh behind his back.

      Babsielicious - 2012-05-19 07:29

      Its not about the \\nis Simphiwe its that we have no respect for anybody or anyone in SA; I agree there better issues to discuss and focus on but simple truth he is an old men and these insults have gone far enough!

  • Henry - 2012-05-18 16:06

    Mr Zuma. Here is a Kite. Have fun .

  • elkita.robbertse - 2012-05-18 16:06

    Take five Haffajee.Be biggest mistake the ANC can make is taking this to court and then this story will never end.The next piece of art must be Vavi.We all are waiting for that.Tell Brett we are all behind him.Jus a fsbulous piece of the spear.

  • Badger - 2012-05-18 16:11

    And drinks are on me buddy, be at the pub around 19H00 and tell the missus you ARE going to be late.

  • Freddie - 2012-05-18 16:12

    HELL NO!! Response to the question... Would you want the painting in your house. I don't want the man in my house never mind his parts flashing at me.

  • ChronicDJ - 2012-05-18 16:12

    Zuma is going to have his hands full with the Zapiro case and now this...wonder if he'll have time for all those wives of his and next elections, nevermind running the country.

      donald.rohland - 2012-05-18 23:57

      Did you mean he will have his hand full whilst he waits for his next erection

  • Rudi - 2012-05-18 16:13

    "But mostly, I will not have my colleagues take down that image because the march away from progressive politics to patriarchal conservatism is everywhere" Ain't that the goddam truth.

      Twain - 2012-05-18 16:46

      To bad the words she's using are so high-brow to the extent where half the country will dismiss it as patronizing waffle without considering what she's actually saying.

  • Shirley - 2012-05-18 16:19

    Well done Ms Haffajee! As for Zumas integrity-I think that went out the door after his rape trial saga! Pity the anc dont voice such contempt for the real horrors taking place-murder,rape,genital mutilation etc! There are REAL problems in this country,just a pity they are ignored!

  • paul.prinsloo3 - 2012-05-18 16:23

    Ferrial Haffajee, you give me hope. I did not think rationality would emanate from Indian courters as I (seemingly wrongfully)assumed the Indian population, with the rare exception of people such as Abrahamjee from Media 24 (for whom I have respect spilling out of my ears)to have been a complacent; sitting duck component of that intelligent sector of our complex demographic compilation. Thank you for having proven me wrong!

      TSOTSI Smilification - 2012-05-18 16:27


      Marius - 2012-05-18 16:58

      Agree with Tsotsi. Paul - you so need to build a bridge bro...

      rlmbennett - 2012-05-19 13:04

      @Mannie777; I think Paul IS trying to build that bridge. Maybe a little less cynicism from our side........?

  • Bzeng - 2012-05-18 16:24

    Did Brett Murrey paint Zuma on scale? ANC met their match on this one!!

  • isingh - 2012-05-18 16:25

    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!About time to and the perfect and most apt way to describe this old old uncle

      Bafana Gcanga - 2012-05-19 13:05

      Bafana Gcanga - 2012-05-19 16:15


  • Cape - 2012-05-18 16:27

    It seems that the women in South Africa are making a stand against the tyrant that is the South African government. We need more people like Ferial, well done.

      Diego - 2012-05-19 16:40

      you wish you could buy it for your mama neh.

  • Lesirela - 2012-05-18 16:29

    I wonder whether City Press is not run by Satanists who have no regard to parental relationships and roles of father figures in families and clans. In my world I know what I would do in reaction to this. I would invoke the powerful African science that I inherited from my ancestors to deal with the perpetrator and the perpetratoress. I am once more disgusted and I am not surprised why my friend expressly does no longer buy City Press, because it mocks and insults families and the dignity of African people.

      Shirley - 2012-05-18 16:33

      You said it-"Your world". I suppose having more than one wife and unprotected sex isnt mocking the "family values" you hold in such high esteem?

      Peter - 2012-05-18 16:35

      "because it mocks and insults families and the dignity of African people." Dont get me wrong i get the family part but why do you feel the dignity of African people is being mocked? I'm asking an honest question i really don't want this to become another racial argument, i genuinely just want to know

      Patsy - 2012-05-19 10:27

      It's your IDOL, JZ, who mocks and insults the dignity of the African people by his disinterest in their welfare, his ignoring of the crime statistics, the corruption, the fraud and the acceptance of criminals into high positions. THINK for once in your life - THINK, Lesirela

  • Piet - 2012-05-18 16:31

    Look closely and you'l see MAL-EMMA'S head......

  • Graham - 2012-05-18 16:32

    Sorry, but I just can't accept that portraying anyone in that manner, for whatever reason, is acceptable. I just just wasn't brought up that way. And no, I'm no ANC fan. They may do despicable things, but I'm not going to stoop to their level. Sorry. Go ahead and shoot me. I feel good about my ethics and nobody will change that.

      Anthony - 2012-05-18 16:40

      I would say you had y'r head in the ground pre'94 as well !Ferial, you are giant of our times, we need 'soldiers'of your ilk

      Keith - 2012-05-18 17:21

      I agree that moral values (in public) have almost disappeared; take, as an example the deplorable bad language on these pages, and E TV, SABC and DSTV have to warn viewers, while almost every second comment has its quota of rude words. Having said that, I do find the picture amusing, given the behaviour of President Zuma. I suspect that Strauss-Khan had to put up with this sort of thing by cartoonists. Oh! And it isn't ART.

  • willem.wulfse - 2012-05-18 16:33

    Bad painting, 'it' is pointing in the wrong direction.

      Freddie - 2012-05-18 16:50

      "It" is pointing in the direction this country is going under Zooma.

  • HugoVaughan - 2012-05-18 16:36

    Hang on, is that not a strap-on?

  • abenathi.mzazi - 2012-05-18 16:40

    Freedom of expression means expressing yourself in a manner which does not degrade, humiliate or demean others regardless of what you believe. Let us not hide behind the words "art, freedom of expression and satire" because they also stand to be criticised by society as they stand to criticise society. Art, satire and freedom of expression are not there to be abused as a means to enfringe upon the rights of others. Zuma may not be liked or even respected by many of us but he has the right to dignity like the rest of us even if you or I don't believe he is dignified. Let us not act like rapists and enfringe on the dignity of others on the grounds that "they deserved it".

      Peter - 2012-05-18 16:55

      This is an artists impression though, if someone draws a picture of me like they did Zuma, i dont feel my dignity would be infringed. Because its not a real its an interpretation. I understand your argument, but its not an actual photo of him naked. Just my opinion though

      mike.clery - 2012-05-18 18:26

      @abenathi.mzazi - agreed. The issue here is whether it's acceptable to depict *anyone* like that.

      mikenortje - 2012-05-19 08:04

      I have read comments up to here and all I can say is everyone seems to have missed the point. Freedom of expression is just that freedom to express ourselves. It is not only Freedom when it suits us, it is absolute. As Haiferjee says would she have the painting up on the wall in her house, well No, but she defends the freedom of expression of the artist to paint the painting and the gallery to display it. SA as a country seems like a spoilt 3 year old not a maturing 18 year old, we need to get over our selves.

      Raymond - 2012-05-19 14:49

      I hate Zuma with a passion but this is just a cheap shot by an artist trying to fill space on the wall. Quite disgusting really and definitely not art.

      Raymond - 2012-05-19 14:56

      @abenathi As for reedom of expression, I agree with you. The fact that some artist decided to step over the mark is one thing. Why would the printed/electronic press wish to make news of this display of bad taste. It is issues like this that lead to the ANC wanting to institute all sorts of restrictions with the press. This is NOT responsible reporting madam. You really should apologise before you, quite rightfully, are made to. If you down thumb this, you accede that you have no problem with someone painting a picture of you in some "pornographic" pose and then distributing it in the world press.

  • glen.e.huysamer - 2012-05-18 16:44

    Zuma for once is good for business, a T-Shirt with the word 'Eish' as in 'CHE' might become his legacy.

  • magomarele - 2012-05-18 16:46

    Agree with Hafajjee. Respect starts within one's self. This president who's been sleeping around, even impregnating his friend's child, should be the last to talk of being respected. He called this to himself and should now live with it. Finish and klaar.

      TSOTSI Smilification - 2012-05-18 16:52

      Well said!

  • Allen - 2012-05-18 16:47

    Let's get this straight.(Gees I crack myself up!)The real reason why the ANC is complaining is because the artist didn't take enough artistic license and make the offending focal point bigger!

  • Bra Tebzaah Sibilanga - 2012-05-18 16:48

    Mthembu,drunk again?I know he's always drunk,especially with his media briefings where he could be seen sipping Old Buck dry gin from a still water bottle.Mthembu is an alcoholic who always talk babalas.

  • Michael - 2012-05-18 16:52

    When the ANC is finished burning the pamphlets, destroying the painting and having had it removed from websites, best they move on to the Constitution. The Bill of Human Rights will ALREADY be burning from their plethora of flagrant crimes already committed against the bill (like muzzling the press, forcing Gauteng to pay tolls, trying to change the constitution), but once they've destroyed someone's art, it's a sign that the Bill has had it's death blow. Seriously: cultural/thought control??? Did these guys use Vorster's and PW Botha's manuals as an operational guide or what??? 1994 was nothing more than a changing of the guard. Thanks for a few good years, Mr Mandela, but you couldn't stay president forever. Now, your party uses the very same front companies from Apartheid days, and they even hang out at the same police luxury bases. For goodness sake, our head of crime and intelligence Mdluli was himself an Apartheid sympathiser, interrogating and oppressing black South Africans. We need to free someone oppressed from prison and unban another political party, so we can have a new beginning, like we did with Mandela. We could try, but first we need a prisoner, and Zuma set all our criminals free. (after he lay with another woman and took a shower)

      Bless Boswell - 2012-05-18 20:59

      Well said.

  • zolisa.dlokovu - 2012-05-18 17:07

    Very interesting.paragraph 3 of this news story.

  • Abrham - 2012-05-18 17:08

    always thought the prez was a bit limp

  • Andile - 2012-05-18 17:35

    If this is 'Media Freedom' than I've drastically changed my mind on the State Info Bill, I support it from this day forth. Some of us growing up now will be leaders tomorrow and damn well I wouldn't like my picture with 'my penis' shown in all the newspapers. I bet even Haffaaajjeee wouldn't like her vagina shown in newspapers. But hey what can 1 say, they are out to destroy. I wish them well!!!

      gavin.dandridge - 2012-05-18 18:04

      How very naive to to make this comment about now supporting the info bill. It's threat to our democracy way excides a painting showing the president's penis. Besides would this be considered a threat to national security?

      Themba - 2012-05-19 10:16

      If you are a public figure and choose to behave like Zuma, expect "that" to also happen to you

  • mike.clery - 2012-05-18 18:10

    "... the march away from progressive politics to patriarchal conservatism is everywhere." Someone needed to say that out loud. But this is the telling statement: Haffajee said although the Constitution protected artistic expression as a subset of free expression, it was not going to be tested by "still-lifes of bowls of flowers". So it's all about testing boundaries?

      Manu - 2012-05-19 16:45

      LOL News24 moderator I made the very same comment as mike, and before mike, and you decided to delete my comment. That was very mature of you ... NOT

  • WhiteNut - 2012-05-18 18:43

    I'm really puzzled by your foolish argument, so to you as a journalist, publishing a person's genitalia is progressive politics. I hope in your newspaper's Sunday addition, we will get to see your OWN genitalia since you are a paragon of your 'progressive politics'

      Lotus - 2012-05-19 12:27

      If your genitals and their behaviour is always of national discussions yes!people do wonder what zumas genitals,literally and politically look like. Progressive politics and art always mix.leave the picture be,its exactly what some of us are thinking but have no words for expressing it. Zuma as a public figure should know that getting involved in politics,and being a complete d...k at it,something like this was gonna come up.if not,its only a matter of time before someone caught him literally with his member out.stone me if you want but we have a right to political expression,in words,song, and whatever artistic gifts we have.this is south africa and our parents have died for these rights,no president will threaten or bully people to have certain views about him

      Jenny - 2012-05-19 17:07

      Oh come on WhiteNut. They weren't really Zuma's genitals. The ANC should have made a sarcastic witticism about the painting and ignored it and pouf! It would have faded away without all this public interest and furore.

  • sydney.matubandlela - 2012-05-18 18:53

    I wonder what Jackson Mthembu's drunk driving has to do with this...that aside, just one comment for you, Haffajee, you make me sick!!!

  • tabisa.ndamase.7 - 2012-05-18 19:26

    OMG what a disgrace making our own president a paragon of virture yerrrr what got into this artist mind? Really its so disgusting, and unacceptable as well.

  • Ted - 2012-05-18 20:06

    Schadenfreude. The new Mzanzi way of life. It seems we are daily asking the question: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' Typical of any society that is rotting at the core. If we are as free to expose the privates of our President as some of us would like us to believe, why don't you set a good example and put your naked picture on your facebook profile and give us a link to it? We have sunk to new lows. This interpretation of freedom hardens people. Sooner we will have to get harsher laws to reign in these tasteless tendencies. Freedom is only within a context of decency, society, dignity and the common good. If lighter skinned people do not see anything wrong with it, then there is a serious disrespect for the views and feelings of their deeper coloured countrymen. It will make any person who calls for the harassment of the lighter guy look like a saint.

  • Attie - 2012-05-18 21:24

    I am not a Zuma supporter, but some ware there should be limits. With freedom comes responsibility. If you have a problem with what a man does, attack the problem, not the person. Please tell me, if Zuma reads this comments, why should he keep the well being of some of you, or your families at hart. If you find that you disagree with the way he conduct himself, please lead by being an example to him. It is a sad day when people think it is acceptable to correct one wrong with another wrong. It does not mater what colour or race we are. This kind of talk does nothing positive and only breed racial hatred.

      Liz - 2012-05-19 17:41

      Well and bravely said Attie!

  • nonhlanhla.nhlumayo1 - 2012-05-18 22:10

    Well if our president feels humiliated,at his age sleeping around like he does I guess he deserve this kind of treatment he gets from his people.If you want respect you earn it by respecting yourself first!

  • Shanan - 2012-05-18 23:16

    No commenty

  • infijar.ken - 2012-05-19 00:28

    I just love the way that News 24 uses every opportunity to use a story to highlight this picture. Brilliant. Very Private Eye'esque! Deservedly so, Mr. President

  • Gus - 2012-05-19 03:20

    Ferial Hafajjee...shes a lady with b....

  • Babsielicious - 2012-05-19 07:24

    What is sad about this even as a quite non political south african is that Zuma is no paragon of virtue indeed but he still has a right to dignity like any other ordinary south african walking the streets. I applaud the artist for what he has done; and that is to bring back all the black folks political and non political minded we for as black south africans who live morally and ethically God led lives; clean and ordinary folk and do not protest in violent manner but do have a weapon called words and freedom of expression will be taking the artist to task!! To the artist\it is your right sir to practice freedom of expression\ but not in a manner that further degenerates moral and ethical values in society while infringing the right to dignity of another; so continue to keep it up and draw more paintings like this, you are driving the concept of divide and rule out of our hearts as a black nation so in a word; thank you very much you have achieved what no single article or book could or news interview with the president. And that is to see him as a human being worthy to be treated with respect and dignity well deserved or not!

      Liz - 2012-05-19 17:33

      I agree with you and am glad you took the time to spell it out as you have. But you will be bashed by many - your view is shared by millions who do not have access to the internet.

  • Bobby - 2012-05-19 07:58

    If the ANC would not have (over)reacted like they did, it would not have been inthen news like this. Its not as if this painting was made yesterday.

  • Ryno - 2012-05-19 08:25

    please correct me if i am wrong - is there any indication that the words "Jacob Zuma" shows on the painting? if not, than the person depicted can be any person, even a person that might resemble him?!

  • Tankiso Mogoje - 2012-05-19 08:56

    If it comes from an editor of a reputable newspaper like City Press as it is right now,then i support the information bill as it was in the first place.My rights as a private citizen should be respected.Nxa

      CliveK - 2012-05-19 13:02

      I think you are greatly mistaken if you imagine this pernicious Bill will have any effect on what's hung (pun intended) in public art galleries.

  • CliveK - 2012-05-19 09:51

    This is something we already know, Ferial! For the record, I think the work of "art" is pretty disgusting - and note that's just my personal opinion folks, but if it were anyone else one has to wonder whether there would be such a fuss. Definitely not.

  • Nkuna Andries - 2012-05-19 10:03

    A new policy is on its way watch de space, ur term 2 cry will cum 2.

  • fionamacmillan.1 - 2012-05-19 10:06

    Much ado about nothing...let's move on now. Don't you just love our constitution. It is almost expected of me to add a comment heehee

  • Vince.York - 2012-05-19 10:24

    BOO HOO Let the people pay for our families???? - He cheated - now he has a child.

  • Musa Mahlangu - 2012-05-19 11:16

    So what if by Haffajee standards Zuma is no paragon of virtue? Would she also support the rape of woman in mini skirts, prostitutes, drunks, etc those who are not paragons of virtue that is? Her argument is barbaric at it's least? The issue is the image is crude, defamatory and even pornographic and should not have been placed in a public library where families frequent. News 24 even quoted a guy who went there with his 5 year old daughter.

      Liz - 2012-05-19 14:08

      @Musa .. I agree with all that you are saying. I am very disappointed at Haffajee. She would do well to listen to her colleagues who probably better understand the readership of City Press and stop viewing her editorial position as a pedestal to indulge her personal views. While for her and her clique of associates and friends South Africa may be "sexually aware, satirically sussed and progressive" we are multicultural society in the shakey process of transformation. Her total ignorance of just how offensive this is to so many African people including a large part of the readership of City Press who are "not satirically sussed and progressive" raises questions about what contribution she thinks she is making to normalising our fragmented and broken society.

  • Patsy - 2012-05-19 11:22

    Has ANYBODY ever looked at the paintings of the old masters? This is nothing new. If I remember correctly, Adam was fully exposed in the Altar Piece in the Sistine Chapel (Vatican). The portion where God is giving him life.

  • gideon.rossouw - 2012-05-19 11:24

    So it turns out that the Presidential member has had a previous artistic outing: in 'Un-mute my tongue' by Ayanda Mabulu! The governing party should not try to dictate what art can be shown where, the ANC keeps on embarrassing itself by encroaching on freedom! The ANC has had trouble with art before, and the Minister of Arts and Culture Lulu Xingwana refused to open an exhibition of Zunele Maholi's photographs of lesbians, saying they were 'immoral' As comparison, there is the 'Mirth and Girth' case in Chicago (Nelson v Streeter), where a student painted the late mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington in women's underwear ( there were rumours to that effect) and this came to the attention of the Chicago City Council during a meeting. They rushed through a resolution and 3 alderman rushed to the Art Institute to go and confiscate the painting, but were prevented from taking or destroying it. After long legal process and expensive litigation Judge Posner ruled (in the words of Chief Justice Warren) "This is a simple case." and that even hate speech codes " . .do not argue that a public official should be immune from offensive, hurtful and wounding criticism . . .". Section 16 of the South African Constitution protects freedom of expression, including in section 1 (c) "freedom of artistic creativity." They would have done better for Zuma by ignoring the painting!!!

  • collen.masetla - 2012-05-19 11:28