The Mail & Guardian is disappointed to note that cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, has announced that he will no longer be available for the public dialogue tomorrow, June 7.
Shapiro had initially challenged author and commentator Eusebius McKaiser to a debate over his cartoon depicting NPA head Shaun Abrahams as a monkey. The M&G then scheduled a dialogue between the two as well as an engagement with the public over the larger issues the cartoon had raised.
The cartoonist now feels he has nothing more to add.
“In the two weeks since my controversial cartoon appeared in The Times, I have listened to and reflected on opinions from all quarters. So much has been written and there have been so many interviews that I have begun to question what more the public dialogue scheduled for Tuesday 7 June can contribute. I think it better to withdraw from the dialogue and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to people who had arranged to attend the event and to those involved in organising it,” read his statement.
The M&G also apologises to those who had registered to attend the event. Please note that it has been entirely cancelled. We will continue to host on-going dialogues at our trademark critical thinking forums to discuss various issues that present themselves in our democracy.
McKaiser noted that it was a pity that the event had to be cancelled. “A lot could have been achieved in dialogue that necessarily cannot be achieved in a radio interview or a news report or a column. Those aren’t dialogical spaces. The town hall format, with the right tone and conversational trajectory, and physical presence of interlocutors and members of the public, make for a different kind of event; greater honesty and humanity.”