Sunday, July 09, 2006

Jon Qwelane sells out in support of Jacob Zuma

Veteran journalist Jon Qwelane says he is fully behind Jacob Zuma’s defamation action against the media and he lashed out at the Mail & Guardian’s cartoonist, Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, who is among Zuma’s targets.
Recently Zuma’s lawyers, led by advocate Jurg Prinsloo, reportedly lodged a series of multimillion-rand suits against Zapiro, The Star, The Sunday Independent, 94.7 Highveld Stereo, The Citizen, Sunday Times, Rapport, Sunday Sun and Sunday World.
This week, Qwelane reiterated his support for Zuma and the legal action against the media, saying Zuma had winnable cases.
He first made his views known two months ago during a media briefing with the Democratic Professionals Association, a Durban-based group of professionals supporting Zuma.
“I still maintain that all graphics, including photos and cartoons, that appear in the media should always be legal, not defamatory, and in good taste,” said Qwelane. “The lack of fairness, as I believe existed in the coverage of Jacob Zuma, is tantamount to dishonest reporting.”
Qwelane, who claimed to have introduced Zapiro to journalism, now said he regretted this. He claimed Zapiro was “prostituting” himself between newspapers and that some of his works on the Zuma saga were “absolutely despicable and in bad taste”.
Zapiro denied Qwelane’s claim, saying: “I think the original Weekly Mail, Sunday Times, Die Suidafrikaan, Cape Argus, Cape Times, Style, Femina, Vrye Weekblad and lots of others would be interested to hear that they are not considered media -- I was published and had received coverage in all of those publications long before I ever heard of Jon Qwelane.”
He also said: “I will not be intimidated by Zuma’s legal challenge, I am working on more Zuma cartoons. He says I injured his reputation. I did not. He is the one who injured his reputation by the things he said in court.
“As someone who headed the moral regeneration movement and the Aids council, he has to understand that people will take shots at him if he says things that contradict what those organisations stand for.”
Zapiro said he was perplexed as to why Zuma was not suing the Mail & Guardian, which had published more hard-hitting cartoons than the ones that appeared in The Star, for which both he and The Star were being sued.
Prinsloo, who leads Zuma’s legal team on the matter, is a former Conservative Party MP who defended Chris Hani’s killers, Chris Derby-Lewis and Janus Walusz. This has reportedly earned Zuma opprobrium from some of his Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions supporters.
Zuma aide and former journalist Ranjeni Munusamy said: “The fact is that there are many people who say they want to help, but very few who actually do help.” She said Prinsloo would not charge Zuma for his work.

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