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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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We're free to love or hate as we please

By unknown | Feb 02, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

There is a new crime that is fast finding form. It is called hating Jacob Zuma.

There is a new crime that is fast finding form. It is called hating Jacob Zuma.

Last Friday, political analyst Dumisani Hlophe wrote an interesting piece asking cartoonist Zapiro to stop drawing Zuma with a shower head. Hlophe contended that Zuma had apologised and that Zapiro should move on.

If he didn't, Hlophe wrote, Zapiro would risk the inference that "by the way, Zapiro hates Zuma".

Having spent some time on a few radio stations defending Sowetan's decision to run a story about President Kgalema Motlanthe, I realise that the charge of hating Zuma or the ANC is more widespread than I thought. It is ridiculous.

I suppose some wise guy will understand this to mean that I am advocating hatred for Msholozi. So let me clarify myself.

All of us are entitled to hate any politician we want. Politicians have been called by terrible names before and it will continue until the end of time. There will always be people who love and hate the same politician.

I don't know if Zapiro does indeed hate Msholozi - and I cannot think of any person better able to defend his position than Zapiro himself - so I assume he will be able to explain himself should he be charged with this "crime".

I know of an editor of a Sunday newspaper who is fond of calling one politician a "cantankerous chief" and a head of state of a neighbouring country a "randy boy king". I have not asked if he loves these two particular gentlemen, but I doubt it.

The said politicians have often expressed their unhappiness with that editor's choice of words - but life has continued.

It has become common to refer to Robert Mugabe as Mad Bob. This can hardly be a term of affection.

After the formation of the Congress of the People, we heard politicians being referred to as dogs, dead snakes and other unsavoury names. In other words, people expressed their strong feelings of hate for their former comrades.

We understood it to be par for the course.

If you want to stay in politics, you have to develop a thick skin.

If you are sensitive and like being loved and told as much, be Santa Claus or something.

The point is that people have certain feelings towards politicians. If we start prescribing that ordinary people should not hate some politicians, it should follow that it would be an equal crime to love another.

Imagine anyone objecting that our writing "betrays our love" for Nelson Mandela. And we should refrain from expressing such feelings. Imagine too, trying to defend yourself from the accusation that you hate Hendrik Verwoerd or Hitler. Like hell, I hate them. If that is not a journalistic thing to feel, then journalism will have to deal with it.

Politicians appeal to our emotions - whether love or hate - on the basis of how much their opinions match up to ours. If they are similar, we get to like them, but if they are in conflict with ours, we tend to dislike them.

What I will not accept is that our feelings for a particular individual should colour our professional analysis of a politician.

Equally unacceptable is the idea that we disrespect the democratic decisions of organisations just because we don't agree with those decisions. If the ANC wishes to have Jacob Zuma as their leader, those who don't like it should vote for a different person come the elections.

But Zapiro, you and I are entitled to express our like or dislike for any politicians as long as we do not advocate that they be harmed in any way.


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