#ZapiroMustFall? When cartooning meets cultural ignorance


Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, is once again at the centre of controversy. His Tuesday cartoon for the Mail & Guardian shows the inside of President Jacob  Zuma’s mind, with little space left for considerations like “running the country” and the “Marikana report”, and most space taken up with “avoiding prosecution” and “home redecorating” – an allusion to Nkandla.

However, what really got everyone going was Zapiro’s potshot at Zuma’s personal affairs, with a great deal of space in the president’s brain allocated to “finding 5th wife/next mistress”.


Writer TO Molefe summed up the criticism of Zapiro, referring to him as a “cultural chauvinist” with “bigoted judgements”, and pointing out that he was classing different categories of things together, as only a “sneering white liberal” would do.

Attached to this online rant was the hashtag #ZapiroMustFall. Not everyone, however, agreed with Molefe’s take – although he did have plenty of supporters.

Some people shared the view that “Zuma opens himself to parody of all aspects of his life”.

However, others claimed Zapiro was ignorant of African culture.

Using satire to take on powerful figures is always a fine balance. What do you think of Zapiro’s image? Was it fair comment – “punching up” to Zuma’s power? Or a step too far – “punching down” on traditions of non-monogamy? Let us know in the comments box below.


Firdaus Khan is a media studies masters student at Wits University. She has a keen obsession with all things Disney, but is also passionate about hard-hitting news.
– Featured image: By Boberger via Wikimedia Commons. 


  1. Zuma is embarrassing to the nation. He has 700 pending cases against him (imagine!), and stumbles from one scandal to the other – anti gay statements, demeaning attitude to women, divides the nation, vanishes when leadership is needed, etc., etc. To criticize such a “leader” is no fault of the critic, but a duty to the masses who are poorer than ever and more desperate. SA is crying out for a saviour and Zuma is the opposite of this, in fact He is a huge liability we cannot afford. Zapiro is no racist – he never slammed Madiba like he does Zuma, because Madiba did not deserve such criticism, so why is Zapiro a racist when he criticise Zuma? Zuma has no dignity to lose, and he laughs at the people who voted for him, while squandering millions – he holds us all ransom, this wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    • Some people feels that by making the president looks as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing they make a difference, but to most of us these people are jokers who think we are stupid, the president laughs at those because they are jokers who think that when people laugh at what you say, then you interpret that you are taken seriously, but it’s the opposite. The president is in a serious business of running the country not a stand up comedian like some of the young boys that we all know, the country might be facing some few challenges but it’s running, surely the are those who can’t see that, or choose to ignore it for their selfish reasons, stop comparing Zuma to Mandela, they in different times, the majority will keep voting for the right party because we are realistic not dreaming, so
      hands off . #zapiro must fall#.


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