Nelspruit - A painting depicting President Jacob Zuma and former president Nelson Mandela as whites has been removed from an art exhibition in Nelspruit, it was reported on Monday.
The art work, created by Kobus Myburgh, was in an exhibition scheduled to open at the Van Riebeeck Hall on Monday, as part of the local municipality's celebration of World Art Day, a local newspaper reported.
In the same painting, former heads of state Hendrik Verwoerd, John Vorster, PW Botha and FW de Klerk were shown as blacks.
During an inspection of the exhibition, the council's arts and culture head Themba Mona viewed the painting of Zuma and Mandela and two others.
According to the newspaper, Mona decided on the spot that the painting was "not suitable" for public viewing.
He removed it and locked it in a storeroom.
Myburgh said the painting was created two years ago, long before the 2012 controversy surrounding the painting, The Spear, in which Zuma was depicted with exposed genitals.
"It is by no means a protest piece. There is a positive message, to show that we are actually all alike. That's why I called the painting Simunye, the Zulu word for 'we are one'. We are and remain equal, regardless of the colour of our skin," Myburgh said.
He expressed disappointment that his painting would not be seen, but he respected the board's decision.
"It's their gallery and they can decide what may be exhibited."
Council spokeswoman Bessie Pienaar said Mona had acted within his rights.