Artists have no need to fear expression

The Arts and Culture Minister said 'The Spear' issue should not stifle the creativity of artists.

Paul Mashatile said 'The Spear' issue should not stifle the creativity of artists.

JOHANNESBURG - Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said on Wednesday, artists have no reason to fear the loss of their rights to artistic freedom in the wake of the Zuma ‘Spear’ saga.

The African National Congress (ANC) and the Goodman Gallery announced an agreement reached between the two parties in which the gallery consented to discontinuing the showing of the controversial painting of President Jacob Zuma again.

Mashatile said this issue must not stifle the creativity of our artists.

“I want to assure them that they must never be afraid.

“Let them be assured that they must be free.”

At the same time the Democratic Alliance (DA) has asked President Jacob Zuma to step down, following the ANC’s march on the Goodman Gallery in protest against ‘The Spear’ painting. 

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko did not pull any punches, saying. “The president’s attention has been diverted from his duties. 

“Energy spent on organising a march to an art gallery and a legal challenge to a work of satire have distracted from the serious work of government.

The debate over 'The Spear' painting of Zuma and his exposed genitals has caused heated debates amongst South Africans. 

Initially adamant to keep the image on its website, City Press editor Ferial Haffajee confirmed to Eyewitness News on Monday that it had been a difficult time for her and her staff as the debate over the publishing of 'The Spear' painting had continued. 

Zuma chose to take the matter to court while there were calls to boycott the newspaper altogether.

When questioned, Hafferjee admitted she was unsure, if given the chance, whether she would publish the picture again.

“I think I might run ten miles in the other direction.

“Do I regret it?” she asks. “If we hadn’t done it, I don’t think we would have a very essential debate.”

Meanwhile, the German art collector who bought 'The Spear' confirmed he will collect the artwork himself and indicated that he will not have it restored, after two men chose to throw paint on the image, ruining it.

The man bought the painting for R136,000 and wants the painting as it is.