Reaction to Zuma's decision to drop cases

Cartoonist Zapiro says the media should continue doing its job without fear.

Cartoonist Zapiro. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Friday said media houses may now have grounds to sue for costs incurred during President Jacob Zuma's now-abandoned defamation cases.

The Presidency on Friday announced that Zuma was dropping all the cases he instituted between 2006 and 2010 for the sake of nation building.

While the decision was widely welcomed - his motive and the timing were questioned.

Sanef chairman Nic Dawes said the charges hung over the heads of journalists for far too long.

"If the media houses concerned feel they want to ask for costs to be paid, I imagine that they would have a case to do that."

Media lawyer Dario Milo said Zuma initiated 14 cases with claims of around R60 million.

Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, was targeted.

He said he believes Zuma has finally realised he has nothing to gain by pursuing the charges.

"That's not a good way to stop criticism. The good way to stop criticism is to stop doing things that people are criticising you about."

In a statement released on Friday, the Presidency said Zuma launched the legal action because he felt his name had been defamed.

Zuma raised concerns for what was described as "bigoted and racist overtones" in the depictions of him and other African males in general.