Analysis of and commentary on South African politics from a liberal perspective.

Tag: Freedom of Expression

The new Zuma painting: What have we learnt since ‘The Spear’?

FEATURE: The new ‘controversial’ painting of President Zuma, by Ayanda Mabulu, provides for us an interesting benchmark, against which we can measure what effect Brett Murray’s The Spear had on South Africa. Put another way: what did we learn from The Spear? Has our capacity for tolerance increased or decreased? And is our commitment to Freedom of Expression enhanced or denuded as a result of it? Time will provide the full answer to those questions. In the meantime, here are a few preliminary thoughts.

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The new painting of Jacob Zuma, by Ayanda Mabulu

FEATURE: President Zuma has brought this on himself. It is unfortunate, because much of the debate about this new painting (currently on exhibition at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town) will not be about the quality of the art, but all those euphemisms the ANC evokes to suppress freedom of expression – dignity, respect, culture, etc. I feel duty bound to post the picture, then, for two reasons: one, to demonstrate some consistency on this issue and two, to take a stand for freedom of expression, in the same way I did over The Spear. Thus, what follows below is the new painting of President Jacob Zuma, by artist Ayanda Mabulu. Read this blog to see it and, if you do, and you are sensitive about such things, make the choice to be offended and test your own tolerance and constitutional commitment. Choice is the essence of freedom, here is yours.

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Zuma’s Zapiro investment strategy

FEATURE: Jacob Zuma’s defamation case against Zapiro – the cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (not David, ANCWL) – is due to be heard by the courts in October. In the meantime, Zapiro is enjoying some rather intense political attention after he suggested, in a more recent cartoon, Zuma is a ‘dick’. In the article below, Adv. Mark Oppenheimer looks at Zuma’s prospects for success with regards to Zapiro’s ‘raping’ of Lady Justice cartoon; and it appears the President faces an uphill legal battle if he is to win. Here’s why.

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FPB: Inside Politics declines to censor The Spear

FEATURE: The Film and Publications Board (FPB) has attempted to censor The Spear, by giving it a 16N rating, for nudity. It has stated that it will attempt to enforce this rating by approaching internet service providers. Inside Politics declines to censor the picture of The Spear on this blog. It shall stay up, as is. The full reasoning behind that decision follows in the article below.

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An Open Letter: Why The Spear is staying up on Inside Politics

FEATURE: Over the past 48 hours a series of people and institutions once dedicated to freedom of expression and tolerance have surrendered their position on The Spear in the face of intimidation and bullying. In each case, an emotional justification has been offered. In many cases it has been accepted, for bullying is felt as intimidation not by the victim alone. I am not taking down The Spear from Inside Politics. What follows is an open letter and explanation as to why.

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‘The Spear’ and the silence of the National Arts Council

FEATURE: The National Arts Council is legally required, among other things, to “uphold and promote the right of any person to freedom in the practice of the arts”. Yet on ‘The Spear’ we have heard not a word from it. How is that possible? How is an entire organisation dedicated to upholding, protecting and promoting the rights of artists able to sit idly by while the right to freedom of artistic expression is under such a direct and wide-ranging assault? It is an indictment and there should be consequences.

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Albie Sachs on South African art in 2000

SERIES: A good quote can hold within it a thousand separate insights, just as surely as some poorly constructed thought can reveal someone as a fool. Quotable Quotes looks at what is said, what was said and, on occasion, how the two compare. In this edition, a quote from 2000, from former ANC stalwart and Justice Albie Sachs about South African art and how it was independent of political hegemony and correctness; an appraisal that stands in stark contrast to the ANC’s recent response to ‘The Spear’.

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