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City Press editor: 'I don't respond to threats'

Sapa

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee says the ANC is no longer a party of ideas and debate.

The Spear, defaced, in the Goodman Gallery.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee on Sunday apologised for the hurt caused by the paper’s publishing of a painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, but refused to remove the image—artist Brett Murray’s The Spear—from the paper’s website.

Haffajee addressed Zuma’s daughter Duduzile in her column, saying: “I understand that what is a work of satire to me is a portrait of pain to you.”

Haffajee said Zuma’s children could face teasing as a result of the paper’s actions.

“And if they and your dad saw the work in our pages and it caused harm, then I apologise from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

“Would I publish the image again knowing what I do now? Probably not,” she admitted.

She had considered placing a “strategic flower” over the part of the image which had caused offence.

However, after the ANC called on its followers to boycott the paper, she changed her mind.

ANC leaders pursuing own ambitions

The ANC was no longer a party of ideas and debate. Rather, its leaders were pursuing their own ambitions, she said.

“I’d like to play my role, but if I respond to fear, insult, demands to remove an item of journalism, threats and intimidation, then what role will I be playing to make ours the best possible world for your little brothers and sisters, and all the children for whom we are making a future?” she asked.

The ANC has called for a march to the Goodman Gallery in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on Tuesday. Murray’s Hail to the Thief II exhibition—of which The Spear forms part, is currently on at the gallery.

In Durban on Saturday, protesters from the ANC, SACP and Cosatu called for the painting to be banned and burned copies of City Press that featured the painting, reported the paper.

Meanwhile, former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema spoke out against plans to boycott the paper in an open letter published in the weekly on Sunday.

“Of all the freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights, the right we should defend with our lives is the right to hold different opinions on how we view society and how we think certain matters should be handled,” he said.

“Banning newspapers simply because we disagree with them, and boycotting them on the basis of believing that our conception of truth is absolute, poses a real threat to our democracy,” he said.

Malema said that City Press had run articles vilifying him for more than six months. The paper had still not admitted to the “many mistakes” he said they had committed.

“So the views I am expressing here are not about [saving] City Press’ face or rewarding them for anything positive they have done for me,” he said.

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