Freedom of expression not a circus - ANC

Eye Witness News has apologised for the controversial cartoon. Editor-in-Chief Katy Katopodis says they made a mistake.o Video: eNCA
Primedia has referred complaints about its controversial 'Congress of Clowns' cartoon to its internal ombudsman struggle stalwart Advocate George Bizos. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG – The ANC on Friday denied it was trying to curb the cartoonist’s freedom of expression, by marching to Primedia Broadcasting’s Sandton office over its controversial drawing.

Earlier this week, several ANC members voiced their outrage over the cartoon posted on Eyewitness News’s website, depicting certain ministers and the voters as clowns. The picture also used a derogatory term to refer to the electorate.

The ANC’s Zizi Kodwa told eNCA that although the cartoonists, Dr Jack and Curtis apologised for causing offense, they clearly didn’t believe that there was a problem with their work.

“It is the right of satirists to do their artists work. And I think we support that work. But that goes beyond freedom of expression, freedom of the media. It insults the voters, it undermines their democratic right of the voters to make a choice in the elections.”

About fifty ANC members demonstrated outside Primedia Place on Friday morning, voicing their anger with the cartoon.

"We hare here because we have been insulted, because millions of South Africans expressed their right by voting ANC," Kodwa said.

"Voters are not poephols (assholes), voters are not clowns."

Eyewitness News Editor-in-chief Katy Katopodis apologized for the offense caused and removed the cartoon from the website.

She also referred the matter to Primedia’s internal ombudsman advocate George Bizos for further investigation.

In a column, placed on the EWN website, Katopodis voiced concern about the anger expressed at the cartoon.

“But the ANC was not appeased. In fact, it has made their stance even more aggressive. And this worries me. Not on a personal level (despite the personal threats and abusive, aggressive tweets I received), but on a wider scale.

The issue for me is that this has now become more than just the cartoon. It’s politics.

The new government would like to use this and set a new precedent - or if you like a stern warning - about how much it is willing to tolerate from media. I’ve been engaged in this tug of war with government about media freedom long enough to know the wider implications.

And this why, as a journalist and editor of an honest, fair and credible organisation like EWN, I am concerned.”

Meanwhile, award-winning and controversial cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, said he would have been cautious about publishing the ‘clown cartoon.’

“It’s not the issue of the politicians depicted as clowns that’s really caused the problem, it’s the bottom right hand corner where the voters are also depicted. It says the voters or clowns…

“I’m not here to defend their cartoon, I’m here to analyze what’s going on but I would not have done that cartoon in that way so let’s just get that out the way. I think it was a mistake, I think it does leave itself open to the kind of interpretation that has happened.”




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