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Controversial Zuma painting causes politcal storm in South Africa

By Gao Yuan CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- A controversial painting disrespectfully depicting President Jacob Zuma is causing a political storm in South Africa as the country is heading to the August 3 local government elections.

In the painting, artist Ayanda Mabulu depicts Zuma performing 'analingus' on Atul Gupta, a leading member of the Indian Gupta family which allegedly keeps close ties with Zuma.

A flag of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) hangs in the scene - a plane’s cockpit, a not-so-subtle metaphor for capital flight.

The painting has fuelled debate on social media, with Mabulu receiving plenty of flak for his "disrespectful" and "disgusting" painting from some corners, whereas others praised his bold stand.

Mabulu maintains that the art work is a response to allegations of state capture by the Gupta family which allegedly exerts undue influence on Zuma in the appointment of cabinet ministers and the constitutional court ruling in March which found Zuma having failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution in regards to the Nkandla scandal in which Zuma is accused of abusing public funds to pay security upgrades at his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

"Why must I hide the truth when it is as blatant as the sun," Mabulu said in response to a question about his use of sexual scenarios in depicting the political leadership of the country.

On Wednesday, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) added its voice to the debate, saying:

"This is no art work, not the one we can be proud about."

The ANCYL whilst is committed to protect the freedom of speech, it wishes to warn Ayanda Mbulu that the recent portrait purported to be an artwork is in fact not artwork but an insult to Zuma, who is also the President of the ANC and the country.

"This is an insult which we must not accept as the society.

"Artwork should have creativity in it being carried-out but in the work of Ayanda this is not the case," ANCYL national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said.

The ANCYL calls upon all citizens to desist from this kind of insult, he said.

"South Africa is the only country where a seating Head of State can be insulted with impunity. As the ANCYL we will not stand for this kind of behavior.

"We say this with a background that many people have passed on in fighting for democracy not for it to be abused.

"We want everyone to note that this kind of work is provoking and may elicit a response by others to Ayanda.

"This is not art but an insult and Ayanda should know better than to continue to do the nonsense that is before us now," said Mkhize.

The ANCYL calls upon all to remember that for every right that they enjoy there is a responsibility that they must at all times observe, he said.

"There is no right that is absolute and without responsibility in South Africa.

"We call upon all young people to protect the President’s integrity," Mkhize said.

"We want to caution all that such pictures create anger in some quarters thus this might create confrontational relations between those that continue to create such pictures.

"We call on Ayanda to halt such pictures regardless of who is involved.

"These pictures are not only demeaning but also offensive," the spokesperson said.

ANC officials say the display of the painting is designed to tarnish the image of the ANC which is going all out to win the local elections.

The party is facing the most fierce competition from opposition parties since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The opposition Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters have vowed to take over major municipalities like Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay from the ANC in the elections.
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South Africa ruling party condemns grotesque painting insulting Zuma

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday condemned a grotesque painting in which President of the ANC and the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma is illustrated in a demeaning and hyper-sexualized manner.

"The ANC condemns this form of commentary and views it as an abuse of the right to freedom of speech and media. Mabulu’s exhibition is a grotesque act of vulgarity and disrespect; and a blatant violation of the right to dignity of those portrayed," the party’s national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

The painting, by artist Ayanda Mabulu, depicts Zuma performing analingus on Atul Gupta, a leading member of the Indian Gupta family which allegedly keeps close ties with Zuma.

An ANC flag hangs in the scene, a plane’s cockpit, a not-so-subtle metaphor for capital flight.

"While the Bill of Rights promotes the right to freedom of expression, the right to human dignity of all individuals, regardless of their standing in society, is inherently of equal value.

"In our hard-won democracy, it should not be that artistic license should trump or be used as an excuse to trample on the human rights of others," Kodwa said.

Mabulu has consistently, over a long time, relied on a particular symbolism to advance his commentary.

Common amongst these include the portrayal of black leaders in the form of baboons, according to Kodwa.

"These are all symbols of colonial anthropology that views black people as hyper-sexual beasts who think through their genitalia and are only intellectually competent on a scale similar to baboons," said Kodwa.

Mabulu defends his painting, saying the art work is a response to allegations of state capture by the Gupta family which allegedly exerts undue influence on Zuma in the appointment of cabinet ministers and to the constitutional court ruling in March which found Zuma having failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution in regards to the Nkandla scandal in which Zuma is accused of abusing public funds to pay security upgrades at his private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

"Why must I hide the truth when it is as blatant as the sun," Mabulu said in response to a question about his use of sexual scenarios in depicting the political leadership of the country.

Members of the public have expressed justifiable anger at these works, Kodwa said.

The ANC calls on all defenders of media freedom, freedom of expression and the arts to also condemn this excessive conduct, he said.

This call extends to institutions such as the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) who must not turn a blind eye on media practices that offend the very principles that they seek to defend, he said.
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South Africa president wooing support for ruling party

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to vote for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) because it liberated the country and put the country where it is.

In a rally in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, Zuma said all South Africans who want to see the country going forward should vote for the ANC in the upcoming local government elections on August 3.

"People should vote for ANC because it fought and liberated the country.

"People know the changes we have made in the past 21 years and the ones we are doing in the country. We have age; history and experience. No party has experience like us," said Zuma.

The head of the ANC election campaign, Nomvula Makonyane encouraged party members not to rest until after the elections.

Makonyane, also the Minister of Water and Sanitation, said:

"In your different areas wake up early and talk to people to vote for ANC.

"Vote ANC for Nelson Mandela.

"Do it for the community and ANC."

At the same event, some of the country’s celebrities endorsed the ANC and pledged allegiance to it.

These included award wining singers Sibongile Khumalo; Jonas Gwangwa and Tshepo Tshola, and internationally acclaimed fashion designer David Tlale.

           

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