JACOB Zuma may be laughing all the way to election victory next week, but South Africans tuning into state-owned TV will not be able to enjoy any laughs at the African National Congress leaderâ€™s expense.
This week the South African Broadcasting Corporation axed a special show looking at political satire in the country, two months after the TV executives put a stop to a satirical puppet show based on the caricatures of cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, known by his penname â€œZapiroâ€.
The broadcaster said South Africans were not ready for satire after reportedly spending some one million rand on a pilot of Z-News, whose doll of Zuma is topped by a shower head.
This is a Zapiro trademark â€” an ignominious reminder of Zumaâ€™s testimony during his rape trial in 2006.
He was acquitted, but widely ridiculed after saying he took a shower to minimise the risk of infection after having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman.
â€œSouth Africans are definitely ready for satire, I think probably the SABC isnâ€™t,â€ says Cape Town-based Justin Nurse.
His company Laugh It Off has recently brought out a new soap â€” the Zuma Shower Gel, with the tag line â€œfeel presidentialâ€ and the precaution: â€œDo not think that by using this product you can wash HIV/Aids awayâ€.
â€œSABC and the ANC go hand in hand so itâ€™s hard to distinguish the two â€” Iâ€™m surprised they got that far with the SABC to begin with,â€ Nurse told the BBC.
Several months before the show was canned, Zuma described the cartoonist as â€œtotally out of orderâ€ and started legal proceedings against Shapiro for defaming him in a cartoon showing him about to rape the â€œjustice systemâ€.
The cartoon was published last September when the ANC president was still facing charges of corruption. These have since been dropped.Â â€” BBCOnline.