Cartoonists of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but your pens…
That’s not what Marx said, I said so. The world and South Africans in particular got a pre Christmas gift in the form of ANC president Jacob Zuma suing Zapiro (real name Jonathan Shapiro) as well as the Sunday Times for R7m for a hard hitting – some say “below the belt” – cartoon published earlier this year.
The cartoon shows the ANC president – who was charged and acquitted on rape charges – unfastening his belt and getting ready to figuratively raping the justice sytem represented universally by Lady Justice. In the process, he is ably supported by alliance members: Malema, Mantashe , Vavi and Nzimande.
The ANC alliance members argue that the cartoon tried to show Zuma as a rapist but Zapiro says that the cartoon “showed Jacob Zuma, with the help of his political allies, threatening and intimidating the judiciary to try and manipulate the courts for him to be exonerated and escape going on trial [for corruption], thus paving the way for Zuma to become president.”
Zuma is claiming R7 million for injuries to his dignity and reputation. Meanwhile Al Jazeera reported that this latest case of the ANC president against Zapiro is his 14th against the media.
During September, when the cartoon came out, a number of emails did the rounds and one found me. It forced me to reply because it accused Zapiro of being a racist. This is what I wrote in reply on Tuesday, September 9, 2008:
The recent Zapiro cartoon on the rape of the justice system has caused a storm in South Africa with some saying that the cartoonist has gone too far. The Secretary General Gwede Mantashe has also allegedly labeled it “racist”. In reading his work and knowing him personally, I know him to be a principled and decent human being committed to the cause of justice and the poor. I remember over the years, Zionist groups and later some Muslim organisations reacting badly to his opinions. I remember participating in a conference organised by Muslim Views, where he pointed out that he never sets out to cause enmity and hate amongst people, but that he will remain committed to speak his mind to those who hold power and influence. He seems to have touched many nerves. Cartoonists are the mirror of any society – some days we love their work and others …we may just have to take it on the chin. What a great activist!