By Anthony L Hall
Scandals of all types have characterized Jacob Zuma’s presidency. I have decried those scandals in far too many commentaries. A case in point is “Jacob Zuma Issues Professional Fatwa against Cartoonist Zapiro,” December 22, 2008, which includes this prophetic cry:
It is a fact, however, that Zuma got off scot-free on a charge of raping a woman who regarded him as her father, despite effectively incriminating himself. He also got off on charges of racketeering and other financial crimes, despite evidence that would humble most Russian oligarchs.
Therefore, Zapiro’s depiction of him raping the South African justice system is as fair and accurate as any cartoon can be.
At any rate, Zapiro will defend himself by invoking the universal freedom of the press to comment on the public lives of public figures. Not to mention that truth is an absolute defense to claims of defamation.
Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com
Sure enough, Zapiro’s vindication came when the October 28, 2012, edition of the South African national paper Mail & Guardian
heralded, “Zuma surrenders, drops lawsuit.”
Except that, as with any serial rapist, getting off only emboldened Zuma to rape more. It is hardly surprising then that Zapiro, renowned for his irreverent but unassailable caricatures, had cause recently to depict Zuma raping not just the justice system but all of South Africa.
Of course, mindful that Zuma-led South Africa has become the “rape capital of the world,” Zapiro took pains to say he did not publish this latest rape caricature lightly.
It depicts President Jacob Zuma zipping up his trousers as one of the Gupta brothers gets ready to ‘rape’ South Africa, depicted as a woman, with State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and The New Age editor Moegsien Williams holding her down.
(South Africa News24, April 4, 2017)
What is surprising, however, is that so many who condemned Zuma as a serial rapist are now condemning Zapiro for depicting him as such.
I suspect this inconsistency stems from a visceral reaction to Zapiro capturing Zuma pulling train with Gupta — a non-African, state-capture vulture. After all, there might be liberating pride in condemning Zuma for raping the country, but there’s only neocolonial shame in facing the fact that someone like Gupta was doing so too.
That Zapiro cartoon always leaves me with that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. An acrid mixture of fear, disgust and revulsion.
1:50 PM 11 Apr 17
Rape cartoons in a country with very high rape stats, we don’t need these jokes! Zapiro must be stopped, kwanele manje!
2:55 PM 11 Apr 17
Mind you, the viral tweetstorm his cartoon ignited probably struck Zapiro as manna from heaven. This, after all, is the kind of reaction political cartoonists pray for.
In any event, even Zuma is sensible enough to appreciate that suing for defamation would only vindicate Zapiro’s depiction. Therefore, it speaks volumes that the Guptas, who were clearly happy to jump on board the train, are planning to do so. But they would do well to remember who was zommin who.
Zuma saw nothing undemocratic, or even improper, in granting permission to one of his patrons, the Gupta family, to use a South African military base as their private airport.
Evidently, the Guptas wanted to spare the hundreds of guests they invited to a big, fat Indian wedding all of the indignities that attend landing at and departing from civilian airports; you know, like having to mingle with riff-raff. Not to mention concerns about personal security or loss of expensive wedding gifts; you know, as regular baggage handlers offload the plane: this is Africa after all.
But, in fairness to Zuma, what’s the point in being a wannabe African dictator if one can’t grant one’s friends such simple favors, eh? And how democratic of him to fire the officials who facilitated his favor, instead of jailing the commentators who criticized it. Amandla!
(“Zuma Zoomin South Africa … Again,” The iPINIONS Journal, May 5, 2013)
Interestingly enough, on November 2, 2016, the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court ordered the release of a special prosecutor’s “State Capture” report. It detailed the extent to which Zuma allowed the Guptas to exercise feudal control not only over South Africa’s resources but even over its government, including the hiring and firing of ministers.
Frankly, the only thing wrong with this latest Zapiro cartoon is that it depicted only one Gupta brother pulling train. It should have depicted the other two waiting their turn.
That said, Zapiro should be grateful he’s not living in Turkey. Because, as predatory and corrupt as Zuma is, he has never imprisoned his critics.
By contrast, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has imprisoned tens of thousands. Chief among them is cartoonist Musa Kart — whose caricatures of Erdogan have made him even more famous in Turkey than Zapiro’s of Zuma have made him in South Africa.
After five months of imprisonment Turkey has finally, formally indicted the staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper including cartoonist Musa Kart who, if found guilty, faces a twenty-nine-year sentence.
As widely reported across Middle-Eastern media and by human rights organisations around the world yesterday, a total of nineteen names appear in the indictment with a variety of charges and proposed sentences for each suspect.
Musa Kart is accused of ‘helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member’ and ‘abusing trust’ and prosecutors have stipulated a maximum sentence of twenty-nine years.
(Cartoonists Rights Network International, April 5, 2017)
This is not to say Zapiro will get off scot-free. Because it might only be a matter of time before Zuma begins emulating his mentor, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, by having loyal thugs beat up his critics. Given the way they disrupted the recent memorial service for Zuma's most-revered critic, anti-Apartheid pioneer Ahmed Kathrada, they would probably relish beating the crap out of Zapiro to please their gangsta president.
Zuma Zapiro fatwa…
Wither South Africa…