/ 26 May 2009

SABC pulls Zapiro doccie, again

A documentary on political satire has been pulled -- for the second time -- by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

A documentary on political satire has been pulled — for the second time — by the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

The Special Assignment show — which includes material by Jonathan Shapiro, known as Zapiro — was first pulled just before the general elections in April.

The show was originally pulled by the broadcaster because it allegedly lacked balance.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the documentary would not be aired ”owing to the fact that due process with regards to consultation has not been concluded”.

”Because of the problems encountered previously with this particular episode, the acting GCEO Mr Gab Mampone in his capacity as editor-in-chief will need to make the final sign-off.”

Kganyago said the SABC apologised to the public for any inconvenience.

Lady Justice
Shapiro is being sued by President Jacob Zuma for a cartoon portraying him about to rape ”Lady Justice”.

This cartoon was published when Zuma was still embroiled in court bids to have graft charges dropped against him.

In the cartoon, Zapiro portrayed Zuma unbuckling his belt, while ”Lady Justice” is held down by Zuma allies Julius Malema, Gwede Mantashe, Blade Nzimande and Zwelinzima Vavi.

Mantashe eggs Zuma on: ”Go for it, boss!”

While Zuma’s allies claimed the cartoon was intended to project the ANC president as a rapist — even though Zuma was acquitted of rape in 2006 — Shapiro said the central meaning of the cartoon was ”incredibly clear”.

”It showed Jacob Zuma, with the help of his political allies, threatening and intimidating the judiciary to try to manipulate the courts for him to be exonerated and escape going on trial [for corruption], thus paving the way for Zuma to become president,” said Zapiro.

He said he used Lady Justice to represent the South African judicial system, adding that the figure is recognised as a symbol of justice the world over.

The documentary also features material from the Z-News satire, which was produced by Zapiro and shows Zuma trying to flee from the National Prosecuting Authority and axed president Thabo Mbeki in drag, singing I Will Survive.

When the programme was first pulled, Zapiro told the Mail & Guardian Online: ”I am angry, but not particularly surprised. This confirms yet again how spineless the top echelons of the SABC are. They are totally unbothered by notions of freedom of expression; they don’t have much regard for freedom of expression.

”They aren’t willing to let people make hard-hitting programmes or even analytical programmes about hard-hitting satire.

”This programme was not satire itself, but was analysing satire. It was an overarching thing about the sorts of satire that I and other satirists and comedians have been doing.”