The controversial portrait depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed recalled the assaults to human dignity of the apartheid era, the secretary for the ANC in Gauteng said on Monday.
“South Africans must be sensitive... (The Spear) awakens the ghost of apartheid,” said David Makhura at Walter Sisulu House in Joburg.
While the “terrible portrait” had caused pain through its disregard for human dignity, it had opened up discussion on matters crucial to the practise of democracy.
“Leadership is about going beyond anger. What can we learn from this... (It can) move our nation to a higher level,” he said.
Makhura denied reports that provincial executive committee (PEC) members had disagreed over the ANC's response to the portrait.
It had concluded that the matter called for “honest debate” over the role of artists in nation building.
Makhura said conflict over The Spear had contributed to a “re-racialisation” of South Africa, which could have “dangerous consequences”.
“We don't want this to be a black and white issue... It can undermine all the progress South Africa has made since 1994.”
Makhura called on all ANC members in Gauteng to support a march, scheduled for Tuesday, to convey disapproval of artist Brett Murray's painting. – Sapa