ANC supporters marched in their numbers on Tuesday to the Johannesburg gallery where a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with exposed genitals was shown.
SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande insisted that the painting not be surrendered to the German who bought it for R136 000.
“It must not leave the country. It must remain here and it must be destroyed here once and for all,” he told a crowd outside the Goodman Gallery.
He demanded that the gallery's management immediately apologise to Zuma and his family.
“ 1/8The painting 3/8 belongs to the museum of shame... We did not fight for freedom to be insulted,” he said.
The protest was against the “The Spear”, a painting by Brett Murray, from Cape Town, which was defaced last Tuesday. It was part of Murray's “Hail to the Thief II” exhibition on show at the gallery.
Congress of SA Trade Union president S'dumo Dlamini told the crowd that part of Murray's agenda was to undermine the rule of the majority.
“The insult to Zuma was an insult to all of us. You strike Zuma, you strike us,” he said.
Updating the crowd on progress in the party's campaign against the painting, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said it had ended its boycott of City Press after the newspaper took the picture off its website.
In a statement on Tuesday night, Christian Democratic Party leader Theunis Botha described the boycott as “naked political coercion”.
“We feel that the way in which the ANC addressed the Zuma painting issue with City Press boils down to naked political coercion, and may well adversely impact on the country,” he said.
“The way in which City Press was coerced does not bode well for South Africa’s next evaluation for the freedom of the press index.”
During Tuesday's protest, Mantashe and other alliance leaders delivered a memorandum to the Goodman Gallery's management, and demanded that an image of the painting be taken off its website.
“That was the only thing that was outstanding,” Mantashe said.
In the memorandum, the ANC and its affiliates said the portrait's display had caused hurt and pain to many South Africans.
“We are also fully cognisant of the fact that this offensive painting has also been an insult, disrespectful and indecent to the image, integrity and the stature of the president of the ANC, Jacob Zuma,” it said.
“It is also our contention that this painting has violated the right to human dignity of the president of the ANC..., all members and supporters of the ANC and all fellow South Africans.”
In the memorandum, the ANC said it appreciated that the gallery and Murray realised that the image has conjured up past historical hurts and humiliations for some people in our country.
They earlier said they regretted the pain it had caused and that it their intention had not been to hurt anyone.
After meeting the gallery's management on Tuesday, Mantashe, ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the gallery had agreed to remove the website image.
“Now you have achieved your mission,” Mantashe told the crowd.
Added Mthembu: “This war has been won because of you.”
The Goodman Gallery later said it would announce the details of an agreement it reached with the ANC at a briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday. - Sapa