New York, US (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the campaign of harassment and intimidation against a newspaper in South Africa after it published a photo of a painting of President Jacob Zuma more than two weeks ago.
On 13 May, local private weekly City Press published an art review of an exhibition in Johannesburg that featured a painting of a Soviet-era propaganda poster casting Zuma in the mold of Vladimir Lenin with exposed genitals, according to news reports.
"We condemn acts of intimidation and threats against City Press, as they undermine the rule of law in South Africa and curtail the freedom of the press to report on speech critical of the authorities," CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita said in a statement made available to PANA here.
"As head of the ANC and the ruling coalition, President Jacob Zuma must call his supporters to restraint. We hold the government responsible for the safety of the staff of City Press," Mr. Keita said.
After a series of criticism and threats against the paper in the past week, the paper's editor-in-chief, Ferial Haffajee, announced the removal of the photo from the website on Monday, she said in an op-ed.
Haffajee told the New York-based CPJ she had received a letter from a government official that said the paper's coverage could instigate a race war if they continued to report on Zuma.
Days before City Press removed the photo, news accounts reported that a City Press reporter was obstructed from covering a local union meeting on Saturday, while others said that on Sunday, protesters from Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party had burned copies of the paper that featured the painting.
The ANC released a statement on 24 May saying City Press had singled itself out as being against Zuma, the ANC, "our democracy, and the majority of South Africans."
Jackson Mthembu, a spokesman for the party, called the newspaper "a perpetrator of injustice and slander," and told supporters "to indefinitely boycott buying the City Press Newspaper ... until the removal of the insulting portrait of President Jacob Zuma from their website."
-0- PANA SEG 31May2012