Defending his dick-cartoon of President Jacob Zuma published in the Mail & Guardian last week, cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro insisted “cartoonists and the broader public should have the democratic right to be irreverent about leaders, especially leaders who display hypocrisy”.
Zapiro said he did not put ‘The Spear’ back on the agenda but only “responded to reports that it would be discussed at the Social Cohesion Summit” held this past week.
Responding to the ANC that he had not attended the summit, Zapiro said he “wasn’t invited”, adding that if he had, he would have made “dissident views are vital in a democracy and are a force for change”.
Had they attended the summit, said the ANC spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, both Zapiro and the Mail & Guardian would have learned to “appreciate that as South Africans we need to respect each other immaterial of the positions we hold in society” and “respect the cultural values that underpin our South African society, values which negates any insulting mannerism in written or artistic word…”
Demanding an apology from Zapiro and the newspaper, the ruling party said it would not rest until the two “understand that their so-called journalistic creativity is a disservice to the unity and cohesion of our country”.
Zapiro claimed ‘The Spear’ saga “was not resolved properly” because the ruling party had “bullied the Goodman gallery and the City Press into compromising”. Through its bullying tactics, said Zapiro, “Freedom of expression suffered a blow” (emphasis added).
He said the cartoon was only “meant to be scathing but humorous”. “It’s also serious commentary about a seriously flawed, hypocritical leader”.
Judging by his response it is now clear that Zapiro thinks less of Zuma, that he sees him as a “seriously flawed” leader who, it seems, he would never take seriously, let alone respect and treat with the dignity and respect.
It is further clear from what he claims is Zuma’s hypocrisy that the cartoonist does not hold the president in any high regard as many ANC members do, and as some million South Africans do, especially black people.
To claim the cartoon was meant to be “scathing but humourous”, I wish Zapiro had listened this week to Pieter-Dirk Uys who told SABC’s FM’s Masetshaba Moshoeshoe that there is a line between satire, humour (and I seriously forgot the third one).
Given his disregard of and disrespect for the president, it comes as no surprise that Zapiro has, to date, failed to see that “line” which Uys referred to.
More than anything else, the poor cartoonist still struggles to know where humour and satire ends (whatever these mean)!
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