Presidency condemns Zuma portrait

South Africans are debating the portrait depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

The Spear - Cropped. Picture: Stephen Grootes/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The portrait of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed is "grotesque, crude and offensive", the Presidency said on Friday.

The painting is currently on display at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg as part of an exhibition of politically inspired works.

Presidency Spokesperson Mac Maharaj said nobody has the right to violate the dignity of others while exercising their own rights.

"He [Zuma] shall defend the rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights, including the freedom of artistry. However, in exercising these rights, people must always be conscious that these rights are not absolute."

The portrait sparked a national debate, particularly on the issue of freedom of expression and right to dignity.

Meanwhile, the Goodman Gallery said it had a busy morning as people flocked to see the portrait.

Speaking to Eyewitness News , one visitor said the ruling party was being questioned by the artwork.

"The ethos of the ruling party is really being put into question by the artist."

Another said, "I think this sort of thing is great."

On Thursday, the ANC said it would go to court in a bid to get the picture removed.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said they were outraged by the portrait because it violates Zuma's dignity.

"This is abuse of the freedom of expression."

The ruling party also wants the City Press to remove the picture from its website.