South African Cartoon Arouses Fury!

It appears the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is creating a furor in South Africa because Jacob Zuma, leader of the African National Congress,(ANC)is depicted in a caustic manner by the cartoonist Zapiro(real name Jonathan Shapiro). The cartoon unleashed a storm of controversy because it charges Zuma is using his power in the ANC to overcome government action against him for bribery and other offenses. He has already faced the court on charges he forced his way sexually on at least one woman. The cartoon shows Zuma unbuckling his belt–his buttocks partly exposed–in front of a woman who is being held down by leaders of the ANC, the South African Communist Party, the ANC Youth League, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Off to the side, Gwede Mantash, ANC, secretary general is saying: “Go for it boss!” The woman who is going to be raped represents the South African justice system, identified by a banner across her body. Zapiro told the Mail & Guardian, “the primary point is that Zuma is violating the justice system and the spirit of the Constitution. That violation is depicted as rape.”

It is expected a crowd of 5,000 Zuma supporters will be descending on the court when the trial is in operation. Zuma, speaking at the University of Johannesberg, argued the court system in a democracy must be criticized if it acts incorrectly. He affirmed his belief “in the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary” and its right to make final legal decisions.

Hundreds of bloggers are commenting on the Zuma case. Perhaps, in the end, the power of a cartoon is in compelling people to think about issues and to express their views in public.