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Monday, 19 January 2009

Zapiro!

from I Luv SA

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A few months ago there was a lot of brouhaha in political circles about a cartoon. South Africa's sharpest political cartoonist, Zapiro, had surpassed himself in one of the best pieces of political satire that I've seen in a long time - especially because it reflects the facts so accurately.

The cartoon had been drawn in response to ANC President Jacob Zuma's continued efforts to avoid being held accountable and responsible, not to mention standing trial, for numerous charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering, embezzlement and other "irregularities". Zuma has never even attempted to present any kind of evidence-based legal defense, but instead has continued to delay and obstruct legal proceedings through technicalities while claiming to be the victim of a political conspiracy.

This prompted Zapiro to publish his cartoon. It depicts Zuma, who has been accused of rapetaking a shower will wash off an HIV infection. In the cartoon, Zuma is about to have his way with Justice, aided by his cronies in the ANC, the ANC Youth League, the SA Communist Party and trade union Cosatu.

Rather than to respond to criticism in a way that might be expected of South Africa's next president, Zuma decided to sue Zapiro. While this case is still pending, several months came and went, during which Zuma's stooges went through the legal system like a bulldozer. Judges of high station but with dubious reputations started lobbying on behalf of Zuma and attempted to persuade their fellow pontiffs to throw out the charges against Zuma in return for unspecified favours after the upcoming elections, which brought South Africa close to a constitutional crisis.

The whole farce culminated in Judge Nicholson setting aside the entire case on spurious and plainly wrong arguments (e.g. Nicholson considered it incorrect procedure that Zuma had not received a hearing - something to which Zuma is not entitled in this stage of the proceedings according to the law). To top it all off, Nicholson included in his ruling a speech in which he decried the whole matter as a political conspiracy. The ANC was swift to take Nicholson's words, run with them, and use them as ammunition in a coup against president Thabo Mbeki. Within a few days, Mbeki was axed by the Zuma cabal within the ANC, and all his followers within the ANC were swiftly ousted in the ugliest political cleansing that the country has ever seen. A Zuma puppet was installed as South Africa's new president, and business continued as usual.

In short, Zapiro's cartoon was proven to be dead-on accurate, over and over again, by the very parties that it depicts.

Then, last week, the Supreme Court of Appeal crushed Judge Nicholson's "ruling" in words that left very little to the imagination. Nicholson "exceeded his authority" as a judge and "took his eyes off the ball". The SCA stopped just short of accusing Nicholson of having his own agenda rather than the impartiality required by the authority of his position, but then, they didn't really need to say it, did they?

The long and the short of it is that the National Prosecution Agency is now free to resume legal action against Zuma. Not that that will have much effect, of course - Zuma will appeal against this latest decision, several months will pass, the elections will take place, the ANC will win the elections, and Zuma will be made president of South Africa .At that point the whole thing will quietly disappear. Still, hope springs eternal. At least Zuma will have to campaign for the upcoming elections under circumstances which may cause some voters to have second thoughts. Or, in a sizeable portion of the electorate, first thoughts...

But even if nothing happens, this Zapiro cartoon was enough to make it all worthwhile. It actually had me cheering - literally. Zapiro, you're my hero!

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