JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A South African newspaper cartoon depicting President Jacob Zuma as a penis drew condemnation Friday from the ruling ANC just weeks after furore over a painting which exposed his genitals.
Top cartoonist Zapiro’s latest drawing in the independent Mail & Guardian shows Zuma in the shape of an erect penis with a shower head hanging above him and looking at himself in a mirror at an art gallery.
“We find it unacceptable and shocking after the harsh experiences that South Africa, the president and his family have experienced a few weeks ago that Zapiro and the Mail and Guardian will find it appropriate to continue with the insults and hurt the president…” the ANC said in a statement.
Zapiro’s cartoon makes clear reference to the painting of Zumba by satirical artist Brett Murray which ruffled feathers in April when it went on show in a Johannesburg gallery.
The cartoonist defended his work as “scathing but humorous”.
“It’s also serious commentary about a seriously flawed, hypocritical leader,” his office told Sapa news agency in a statement.
The African National Congress last month dropped a legal bid to ban the painting depicting Zuma in a Vladimir Lenin pose with his genitals exposed, after the Johannesburg gallery agreed to permanently take down the work.
But Zapiro’s cartoon revived the debate with a limerick which referred to the president’s sex life and called him a “dick”.
It was published in the wake of a forum this week aimed at the creation of a national social cohesion dialogue among the country’s divided race groups, 18 years after the end of apartheid.
The ANC said it had hoped that the forum, which drew some 3,000 delegates including Zuma and opposition DA leader Helen Zille, “would have assisted the like of Zapiro and his ilk to appreciate that as South Africans we need to respect each other immaterial of the positions we hold in society”.
But Zapiro branded the meeting an attempt to “encourage conformity rather than real diversity”.
“Dissident views are essential for real change. Irreverence toward leaders who take themselves too seriously is a vital part of democracy.”
Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi called the cartoon a “defamatory attack” on Zuma, and called for it to be removed, Sapa reported.
It was also condemned by the ANC Women’s League and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).
Zuma’s sex life often hits the headlines. In April the polygamist married his fourth wife. The 70-year-old has 21 children, several out of wedlock.
A court found him not guilty of raping an HIV-positive woman in 2006. He said he took a shower shortly after unprotected sex with the woman.