Zapiro TV show freedom of speech cartoon

Zapiro TV show freedom of speech

Zapiro, SABC and Freedom of Speech in South Africa

The political satire documentary featuring the infamous cartoonist Zapiro failed to be aired on SABC yet again. The Special Assignment episode contains interviews with Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro), and ANC spin artist Mrs Jessie Duarte. For new Wonkie readers who don’t get the Robben Island reference in the second frame, click back to the Zuma does Zol cartoon where Duarte desperately tries to spin that zol in ANC terminology actually means ordinary tobacco.

As far as Wonkie can tell, the most contentious point is that the documentary shows an apt Zapiro cartoon of now president Jacob Zuma dropping his pants getting ready to rape the blind ‘Lady Justice’ as she is pinned down by his political chums in the ANCYL, ANC, Cosatu and SACP. The cartoon created an uproar as it appeared at the time when then ANC-president Jacob Zuma was still trying to get his corruption charges quashed.

Life is certainly getting tough at the SABC – but so what if they can barely afford to pay salaries, let alone buy beloved soapies like Bold & Beautiful. It really needn’t be so if they do what they are told. Perhaps they may even be able to secure some funding from ANC coffers if they continue on their current path and become the official media mouthpiece for the ruling party.

Zapiro’s Z News TV show – basically a hilarious local rip-off of Spitting Image is also yet to get clearance for take off in South Africa. Below is a small snippet of the show in case you haven’t already seen it: - win up to 42 million Pounds

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  1. Freedom of speech in Africa is like Democracy, It doesn’t exist.

  2. .. I see The Begining of A New “zimbabwe” Country …
    Poverty And Corruption And No Freedom of Speech !!!

    Shame On the SABC … !!! The First To Fall ..

  3. I heard on a radio news that SABC is spending millions on upgrading their foyer and purchasing upmarket vehicles for those who currently enjoy the privilege. I did not know that saving on repeats can be so lucrative!

  4. WELL SAID ANTIAA,politicians and their rubbish talk is all you get in this our Africa its only good for them to follow what suits them and turn a blind eye on what doesnot suit them,but we the ppl whom they claim remain oppressed under then illogical,dumb dictates for in this case as well as in many like cases,our so called leader feed us the junk we dont need and hide the spices we long for.

  5. “Satire” is not necessary for freedom of speech to exist. Zapiro is primarily about one cartoonist’s publicity. There is a private media sector in this country, if his show is viable they should pick up.
    The insistence that the public broadcaster show something that is neither educational nor a requirement for “freedom of speech” nor adding anything new to the debate is nonsensical.
    As for nonsense satements like “freedom of speech in africa” blah! blah! the less said the better

    • @Thabo – You’ve got it backwards. Freedom of speech is necessary for satire to exist. Whether or not Zapiro is only after personal publicity or not is not the issue at hand – the issue is he has a right to express his views through his art form. Besides, perhaps airing the program is not educational to you but it may well be for thousands of other viewers – it’s not your or the government’s decision to make – it is the public’s choice. If you do feel government has the sole discretionary right to censor material they deem is unsuitable – and in this case it seems clearly unsuitable for the government and the ANC – then yes, certainly it is one more step backward for freedom of speech in Africa and one more step closer to Bob’s Zimbabwe.

      Incidently, we don’t see the government and the ANC making a fuss about Malema and the ANCYL’s clearly moronic and inflammatory public comments – why the double standard in this instance? Is freedom of speech only for people that support the ruling party? I’ll check the constitution.

  6. I suppose everybody is entitled to their own opinions, no matter how misguided some of them may be.

  7. Well said PM. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

  8. 1) Yes, freedom of speech is necessary for satire to exist, but satire is not necessary for freedom of speech to exist. That overstates its’ importance.
    2) this makes us more like the UK than Zimbabwe everybody’s favourite example, Read the wikipedia entry on Splitting Image and BBC radio. Note also it was provided under public service conditions by private broadcasters.
    3) Private channels exist for Zapiro to be shown, He does not necessarily have to rely on the state broadcaster. If his program is of value, they will pick it up and given the controversy they probably will. Zapiro is not denied the right to express his art form, he has other avenues from private television, to using the web. What he is denied is access to funds via a state-owned entity.
    4) Statements by the ANCYL and Malema are reported as news. They are reported not just by the SABC but by the private secort (newspapers, TV channels, etc) so your example is not appropriate.

    • @Thabo –
      1) Cornflakes are also not necessary for freedom of speech to exist – the point is satire is an often a controversial art form which is stifled if freedom of speech is not available. Nobody is saying satire drives freedom of speech.
      2) When Mr Zuma and the ANC can take the same amount of media flak Gordon Brown and Labour are dealt by the media then I’ll accept your comparison. The slightest hint of anything negative said about either in South Africa leads to uproar and threats of court cases here. When it starts resulting in physical violence, I’ll let Mr Tsvangirai help you make the comparison with Zimbabwe.
      3) Yes – the state broadcaster should only show positive things about the ruling party. Anything out of those bounds should be deemed too controversial and unacceptable for public viewing. Welcome to China.
      4) I agree partly with your point in (4) however the issue at hand is freedom of speech not the programs on SABC that broadcast stuff. Given that the point of the article is that it’s Zapiro’s fundamentally controversial representation of President Zuma that is preventing the show being aired, my argument is appropriate. Why can the ANC followers get away with saying anything and why is Zapiro not extended the same right?

      Thabo, if we allow the government to restrict expression in any of its various forms – particularly when that form challenges them, we may as well go back to the days of apartheid where if you spoke up you were beaten up. I’m not defending Zapiro per se – just his right to air his opinion.

  9. @PM- At least during the Apartheid era, notwithstanding all the censorship that was in place, the Satirist, Pieter Dirk Uys, who I am sure you recall and who was forever poking fun at the leaders of the old National Party, was often aired on SABC

  10. @PM I am glad you accept there is a nuance. The absence of satire does not automatically imply the absence of freedom of speech and therefore comments about Zimbabwe are basically crap.
    That a democracy that is 15 years old needs to learn to deal with various issues should come as no surprise to anyone. My point on the UK was to show you that democracies evolve, they are not an abstract ideal. Also note that John Major got nowhere this amount of stick from the press. The British press has been evolving too.
    As far as the SABC is concerned, what is needed is to create more space for private television, which will cater to different tastes, audiences and allow different forms of expression which will lead to greater freedom of speech.
    As for the comment on the Uys, the apartheid government restricted what was shown. If you attended his theatre shows, you got a harder different feel.
    Zapiro still has many avenues in which to express himself. What we need to get away from is expecting the state or state-owned institiutiions to be the drivers of this. In most countries, that freedom is provided by the private institutions and that is the way it should be.
    Personally, I do not like Zapiro and do not want any of my taxes to go towards promoting his nonsense, but he is free to use other avenues.

  11. Antiia hit the nail on the head at 08:23 – `Freedom of speech in Africa is like Democract; it doesn’t exist’. So was PM when he suggested Freedom of Speech is only for the ruling party. Maybe he was being sarcastic, but that’s the way it is. SA is sinking deeper and deeper into socialism. Semaj.

  12. @ThaboM. Whether Uys’ theatre shows were harsher than those aired on TV is neither here nor there.
    The point I was trying to make was that, in the the “new South Africa” we are supposed to have more freedom of speech than in the apartheid era and that Uys’ satire, which was aired on TV, was no more politically harsh on the then ruling party than is Zapiro’s today,which is not being aired. But when individuals have such narrow-minded autocratic views, then other points of view and relevant arguments tend to fall on deaf ears.

  13. @Antiaa – I disagree with you on the level of harshness b/w what Uys showed on TV and the approach of Zapiro. Uys tired harder at being artistic and clever in his criticsim. Zapiro approaches it very differently, nuance is not in Zapiro’s vocabulary.
    I am, however, glad that you put together a reasoned line of argument as opposed to where you began with a broad and in my mind nonsensical statement. Democracy and freedom of speech in any society is never a finished process. It needs to be worked on but progress is not served by silly statements. I still believe that the way to go is to create private spaces for freedom of expression that are completely independent. State-run broadcasters seem to have to pull off a strange balancing act.

  14. @ThaboM – If you regard my opening remarks as silly, that is naturally your prerogative. I stand by them.
    As far as I am concerned, one need only look at Africa (SA included) with an open mind to see that TRUE Democracy and Freedom of speech does not exist.

  15. JamesBlacks says

    I agree with Antiaa and PM.Real Democracy does not exist in africa.What we have in africa in my opinion is “Tailored Democracy”.

    As soon as they get into power ,politicians tweak the rules to suit their personal and party’s agenda leaving the masses who voted for them in the dumps.

    It is the unfortunate truth and it is quite a shame because with all the natural resources and scenery that Africa has been blessed with, Africa should be the wealthiest continent in the world.

    People should be lining up at African Embassies in western countries trying very hard to get a Visa to enter Africa.Ancient Egypt is an example of how great mordern day Africa could have become if our leaders had been more selfless and dedicated to the upliftment of their citizens.

    Instead wars,curruption, domestic violence,genocide ,epidemics, political manipulation and political censorship has become the order of the day.May GOD have mercy on Africa.

  16. “Editorial independence and press freedom should never be placed above the national interest” – Thami Mazwai at a SABC interview for a position on the SABC board. This was pre 2000. This is still the mindset even more so today. Who decides what is in the national interest? The ANC is communist. Freedom of speech does not exist in communism. Enough said.


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