S.Africa’s ruling party drops legal bid over Zuma’s painting
South Africa's ruling ANC is to drop its legal bid to ban a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with exposed genitals, the party and a Johannesburg gallery owner said on Wednesday.
“The applicants will withdraw the application currently before the South Gauteng High Court,” said Goodman Gallery director Liza Essers, reading from a joint statement also signed by the African National Congress party.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu confirmed: “Indeed, we are no longer taking the Goodman Gallery to court.”
He said the party would also withdraw its case against a local weekly, City Press, which published an image of the painting.
Tension between Essers and Mthembu was evident during the joint press conference at the gallery, and Essers said that although there was an agreement, the two institutions did not see eye-to-eye on all the issues.
The ANC, Zuma and one of his daughters went to court last week demanding a ban of the painting by satirical artist Brett Murray, charging that his depiction of Zuma was “indecent”.
But during the first hearing, a judge said it was going to be difficult to enforce a ban because the image had already spread on the Internet.
Amid a national furore, the painting was vandalised last week, forcing the gallery to remove it from display and to temporarily pull down its shutters.
On Tuesday ANC supporters staged a protest against what has become one of the most controversial artworks in the country’s post-apartheid history.