#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.