The Political cartoon that upset a President



Political cartoons are powerful things or at least they can be. Cartoonists have been murdered for drawing them and journalists have been jailed for publishing them. As always the battle rages over whether political cartoons that attract controversy are about free speech or racism. In 2010  a president didn’t like a political cartoon that used crude imagery to get the message across that he was abusing the justice system. He didn’t murder the cartoonist and he didn’t imprison him but what he did do was sue him for $774,500 New Zealand dollars.
DATE: 2010

South African President Jacob Zuma has sued a leading media group and others over a two-year-old political cartoon depicting him in a sexually suggestive scene with a figure representing ”Lady Justice”.

Zuma is seeking 4 million rand ($NZ774,500) for defamation from Avusa media  and an additional 1 million rand from a former editor with the group’s Sunday Times newspaper and the cartoonist, said Eric van der Berg, an attorney with the Sunday Times, on Tuesday.

…”We were surprised that it (the lawsuit) came more than two years after the event,” Van Der Berg told Reuters. ”We will defend it vigorously.”

The cartoon image depicting Zuma’s supporters holding down Lady Justice was from Jonathan Shapiro, known by his pen name Zapiro. President Zuma was shown standing over the woman with his flies unzipped.

Shapiro on Tuesday told Talk Radio 702: ”I was saying something very strong about him because I felt, and still do feel, that he and his allies were abusing the justice system.”

At the time the cartoon was published in 2008 Zuma was facing corruption charges which could have blocked his path to the presidency.

A court in 2006 acquitted Zuma of raping an HIV-positive family friend in a case that garnered widespread public interest and condemnation from women’s groups in a country with one of the highest incidents of sexual violence in the world.

Zuma has called the cartoon degrading and vulgar and pledged to take legal action.

The lawsuit comes as Zuma’s ruling African National Congress plans new measures to monitor the media, which have been criticised by local media, global groups and some overseas governments as an attempt to muzzle the press.

– Reuters




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