Will Zuma's spear stay up?
'Court decision won't restore Zuma's dignity'
A COURT decision on the controversial painting depicting President Jacob Zuma's genitals will not change its crude, rude and racist nature, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said.
Mantashe said it would be interesting to see what would happen when he and other men attend proceedings on the matter in the Johannesburg High Court today with their genitals exposed.
"That is what the painting is saying ... that black people can walk around with their genitals hanging," he told journalists in Johannesburg at the weekend following the ANC National Executive Committee meeting.
"It doesn't matter what the court says, it (the painting) is crude, it's rude, it's violent, disrespect and it's racist," Mantashe said.
He slammed criticism of Zuma being a polygamist.
"Quite a few men have more than one wife. So what? Does that mean they are hanging their genitals? To a point where they are called stallions? That's rude and represents hatred," he said.
"When you abuse the right to expression, you destroy that right."
Zuma and the ANC are hoping to interdict Goodman's Gallery, where controversial artist Brett Murray's painting is displayed.
Goodman's Gallery is in the suburb of Parkwood in Johannesburg.
Mantashe said the leadership was convinced that the portrait violated Zuma's dignity and privacy.
Mantashe appeared to endorse a planned march by the Young Communist League (YCL) to rip off Murray's portrait, entitled The Spear, from the gallery.
He downplayed the risks of the march turning violent, saying it was people's reaction to the painting that was polarising society along racial lines.
"When people march, you can't say it's violence," said Mantashe.
YCL leader Buti Manamela acknowledged the court proceedings scheduled for today, but said some form of action was necessary to show disgust at the portrait.
The portrait, expected to be on display until June 16, shows Zuma with his pants unzipped and his private parts exposed.
The gallery has since rejected calls to remove the painting from display.
Mantashe said had it been a white leader depicted in such a disrespectful form by a black artist, the reaction would have been different.
He said the painting suggested that black people felt no pain, had no values and were just objects. "There can't be a right without responsibility. They must go together."