Zapiro: What SA lost with Kader Asmal’s death

Zapiro dealt with the death of African National Congress stalwart and freedom fighter Kader Asmal in this week’s Mail & Guardian.

The cartoon comes as South Africans feel increasingly anxious at the passing of the old political stalwarts and their values in the face of increasingly radical and irresponsible politicking.

Asmal is depicted as the the ANC’s “moral compass” — a neat representation of an oft-referenced image in criticisms of the ruling party. Asmal is pointing to the side of the compass which has the words ethics, humanism, accountability, non-racialism and constitutionality inscribed on to it. The opposite side of the compass is engraved with the words tenderpreneurship, cadre deployment, racial populism, corruption and secrecy Bill. In the distance, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema lurks behind a tree.

In the corner of the cartoon is an image of Zapiro drawing Asmal, with the sentence “You’re still drawing my nose too big!” written above him.

It is an endearing and personal reference to a leader who actively engaged with media, but defended their right to freedom, in an environment of increasing intimidation.

There have been a few references to the ANC losing its moral compass. The ruling party’s unrelenting push for a Protection of Information Bill has been widely criticised by academics, the public and opposition party members. Asmal himself has spoken out against the proposed Bill weeks before his death.

For many, he stands in direct contrast to the non-racialism and racial populism of Malema’s singing of the racially charged lyrics “dubul’ ibhunu”, or “shoot the boer”, which caused an uproar, resulting in him being taken to the Equality Court for hate speech.

Corruption, cadre deployment, tenderpreneurship and accountability reference the many corruption incidents that have rocked the ruling party, including the recent call for a renewed investigation into the arms deal which could implicate many previous and current government members, not to mention the Grootvlei mine debacle in which President Jacob Zuma’s son Khulubuse is involved.

Tweets from journalists included tributes to his integrity as a leader.

“Kader Asmal was the 1st Cabinet Minister I ever interviewed as a student. He was funny charming and saw the funny side. And ripped you off,” tweeted political journalist Stephen Grootes.

“Devastated to hear about Kader Asmal. A generation of political integrity passes on and we flounder with no replacement,” read another.

“With Kader Asmal gone, the old guard is going, it is now our responsibility to learn to become as fearless as they were,” tweeted columnist Khaya Dlanga.

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Deshnee Subramany
Deshnee Subramany is our loudest employee. After slogging through various positions in marketing, advertising, radio – and a cow suit – Deshnee finally found her way to the M&G as a content producer in 2010, and was then forced to grow up by filling the position of day editor of the website. Sometimes she puts on her radio voice and guest-hosts the M&G Newsroom.If she was a superhero she would be called the Feeding Frenzy. Her passion is South African politics and revolutions. This comrade loves setting her world alight by discovering new ideas and people, and isnt afraid to laugh the loudest.

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