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Monday, 21 May 2012

The Spear!

‘The Spear’ an attack on blacks – BMF

The portrait depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed was an assault on black culture, the Black Management Forum (BMF) said on Monday.
“The tasteless depiction of President Jacob Zuma… is not only a personal assault as well as an attack on the dignity and institutional office of the President of the Republic,” the forum said in a statement.
“It is also an attack on the culture of the majority, the black people of South Africa. It cannot go unchallenged.”
The painting was a “crude attempt” to reinforce the “hostility harboured by a small number of South Africans towards our democratic dispensation and towards members of the national leadership”, the BMF said.
The artwork did not advance South Africa's constitutional democracy or public discourse on the topic in any way, the forum said.
It also questioned the “apparent ease” media organisations had shown in reproducing the portrait of Zuma.
The 1.85m-high painting titled “The Spear” is part of Brett Murray's “Hail to the Thief II” exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. The portrait has sparked debate about freedom of expression and the right to dignity and privacy.
The ANC was set to argue in court on Tuesday that the painting should be removed because it violated Zuma's right to dignity and made a mockery of his office. – Sapa

An attack on blacks? I find it hilarious and pathetic that our very own president is turning a painting by an artist known for his political commentary through his work into a race issue. Allegedly the painting "violated Zuma's right to dignity and privacy".


  1. The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect.
  2. A composed or serious manner or style.


  1. The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.
  2. The state of being free from public attention.
Synonyms:secrecy - solitude - seclusion - retirement

The meaning of both of those terms now having been provided for the sake of clarity, let us discuss whether or not these allegations are correct...

If dignity is the state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect can this term truly apply to Jacob Zuma. Zuma has no morals at all and openly flaunts this in public through his embarrassing displays of "zulu culture". Multiple wives, 21 children, affairs (sleeping with the daughter of a friend of his being one of them - he also had a child out of wedlock with her while MARRIED to other women already!). If a man is unable to respect his own marriage, wherein he took vows to remain faithful, where is the respect that we should afford him?

He sits in the seat of a "democratically elected" president apparently - but dare I remind South Africans that we do not vote for a president? We vote for a political party, the party winning the majority of votes is then placed in the position of appointing a president from among our ranks. So Zuma was never voted for by the country - only by the ANC. A man who has been accused of rape, publicly stated that if you shower after having unprotected sex with someone that you can avoid contracting HIV, had 700 charges of fraud and corruption against him dropped because of political interference and is now working on various ways of ensuring he doesn't lose the presidency (so much for democracy huh? More on this in later posts).

By my reckoning there is nothing about the man that leads me to believe that he is worthy of honour or respect. In my culture (being white culture) carrying on the way he does in public is cause for ridicule. Any white man that dared carry on in the manner Zuma does on an almost daily basis would be the laughing stock of the country and never taken seriously again. And yet this is the man that we are presenting to the international community as our leader with his immoral and ungodly behaviour and antics being excused by stating that it is his "culture". Thank God it is not a culture that I was born into - I would be ashamed to admit it.

So has Zuma's dignity been infringed by a painting that accurately depicts his attitude and approach to life? If a man has not earned the respect of the people by his actions and his character, he is by no means entitled to be respected or honoured simply because he holds a position of authority. Thus I cannot see how his dignity has been impaired at all? He never had any to begin with.

If privacy is the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people, then one has to ask whether this can be applicable to people who have deliberately put themselves in a position which is susceptible to public scrutiny? Constitutionally speaking no right is absolute and this includes the right to privacy.

As Pierre De Vos put it on his blog "Constitutionally Speaking" in October 2011:
"In a democracy it is appropriate that public figures are sometimes treated differently than private citizens and that the former sometimes be entitled to a lesser degree of privacy than the latter. In an open and democratic society, voters have a right to be informed about all aspects of the lives of our politicians that they believe are relevant to enable them to make an informed decision about whether to support a particular politician or not. The difficulty is that it will not always be apparent what information voters would deem relevant."

In this instance I am firmly of the opinion that the sexual exploits of Jacob Zuma directly correlate to his moral standing and therefore to his ability to perform the functions with which he has been tasked as the head of state.  This would mean to me that by airing views in regard to the moral standing of our president, a man who should be setting an example to our youth, is beyond reproach from the perspective of the right to privacy.

It is inherent in the way we function in society that we as a community are entitled to know where the moral integrity of our leaders stands. I would go so far as to state that it is in the public interest that we be made aware of these issues.

So in my opinion have Jacob Zuma's rights been infringed by a painting depicting him with his penis hanging out? Not at all. It is fair public comment by an individual airing his opinion in a public forum which has, not surprisingly, caused a large amount of public debate - the kind that you would expect to have in a free and fair democratic society. I regard Zuma's attempts at removing this contentious issue from public scrutiny as a form of censorship which cannot be tolerated in a democratic society. It undermines the very foundations of democracy when public debate surrounding our country's leader is stifled because he dislikes the light in which he is portrayed.

This has gone further than simply being about one man. The ruling party has since turned this commentary on one public official into an issue of race (a typical ANC tactic when they are unable to make a logically, rational argument to an issue). If the manner in which Jacob Zuma conducts himself is indicative of his "culture", and he is proud of that "culture" why then would some social commentary on the issue be embarrassing for him? Why should it be made into an "insult" of all blacks? Is it being alleged that the majority of the black population agrees that sexual immorality is the norm in their culture? That it is acceptable to be connected to criminal activities and yet be beyond reproach simply because you happen to be "elder"?

The portrait was one man's expression of his opinion in the form of a work of art that could conceivably be seen in a positive light - something along the lines of "strength and virility" or even "masculinity" - all good things. Instead the ruling party and Jacob Zuma personally have reacted in a manner which shows that their "pride" in their Zulu "culture" is a pure ruse and that their perceptions are more reminiscent of a puritanical fundamentalist religion to which the naked human form is seen as pornography.

This would seem, to me at least, to show that good old JZ and his flunkies are just as ashamed of his antics and immorality as the rest of the civilised people in this country and that is why they do not want focus on it - especially this close to the date on which it will be determined if the ANC will allow JZ to have a second term as president if the ANC win the next elections... they know that there are at least a few educated people in this country of all colours and that if their continual inability to perform and their habitual immoral proclivities are aired publicly then they will all be out in the cold.

So instead of acknowledging public debate or actually finding a valid argument to rebut the intonations of the piece, the ruling party has again taken to the party line and made the issue one if race! This way all public debate is shifted from the issue at hand - the morals of the man leading the country - to the age old issue of "white vs black".

The whole saga has left me shaking my head and wondering why we have allowed this to happen to our beautiful country...

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