Zuma lashes out at Zapiro

The Presidency says Zapiro should not be the litmus test for political satire in the country.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - The Presidency has lashed out at cartoonist Zapiro, for saying President Jacob Zuma's reasons for withdrawing a R100,000 defamation claim against him was not in the interest of the nation.

Zuma's legal team on Saturday withdrew the claim against the satirist, whose name is Jonathan Shapiro, just two days before the case was meant to proceed.

The claim was for a cartoon published in the _Sunday Times. _It depicted Zuma - who was once accused of rape - about to force himself on a representation of Lady Justice, while several of his allies hold the woman down.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the charges were withdrawn in the interest of freedom of speech.

But Zapiro said it was because the president and his aides did not want Zuma in court in the run up to the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung in December.

Maharaj said Zapiro should not be the litmus test for political satire.

"Don't make yourself the personal test of…this country."

But Zapiro said if the Presidency really had an interest in free speech, they should drop the defamation cases against other satirists and journalists.

Zuma has two outstanding claims against The Star newspaper for R10 million, for Zapiro cartoons published in 2006.