Cape Town – The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) issued a veiled warning to Ayanda Mabulu on Wednesday as word spread of the controversial artist’s latest work depicting President Jacob Zuma.
“We call upon the ANCYL structures where Ayanda resides to engage the fellow on this matter,” said spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize.
“We want to caution all that such pictures create anger in some quarters, thus this might create confrontational relations between those that continue to create such pictures.
“We call on Ayanda to halt such pictures regardless of who is involved. These pictures are not only demeaning, but also offensive.”
As far as the ANCYL was concerned, Mabulu’s latest, which depicts likenesses of Zuma and Atul Gupta engaged in a sexual act, “is no art work”.
It stressed that it was committed to freedom of speech in South Africa, and to the protection of constitutional rights.
But this was no more than an insult to Zuma, the league said. “We call upon all citizens to desist from this kind of insult.”
“This is not art, but an insult, and Ayanda should know better than to continue to do the nonsense that is before us now.”
The ANCYL said that rights were not absolute, and came with responsibility.
“We call upon all young people to protect the President’s integrity.”
‘I will go toe to toe with them’
Mabulu denied that he was being disrespectful towards Zuma.
“Is he not disrespecting us? Do you know how many children are without food?”
“If Jacob Zuma was a white president, most of the black people now, who seem to be against what I am doing, they would have been clapping hands. If I depicted PW Botha, they would be fine with it,” he said.
The painting is part of an exhibition on the status quo after apartheid and is being held at Constitution Hill. The gallery’s Ruben Pasha said the painting was just one in an exhibition that was curated to make people talk.
He is also planning a discussion on freedom of expression and the right to dignity, where many of the issues raised by critics would be debated.
He said they had not received any threats.
Mabulu said he was not afraid of threats, and could stand up for himself.