The painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed is an attack on the morals of African culture, the SA Students' Congress (Sasco) said on Monday.
“This arrogance is ideological and an attack to the very value and moral systems of the majority African people and many other religious persuasions,” president Ngoako Selamolela said in a statement.
The picture subjected Zuma, as an adult and as the country's president, to “public ridicule”.
The 1.85m-high painting titled “The Spear” is part of Brett Murray's “Hail to the Thief II” exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Joburg. The portrait has sparked debate about freedom of expression and the right to dignity and privacy.
“Satire or not, there is nothing politically acceptable about a personalised attack on the president by drawing his genitals and putting them on public display,” Selamolela said. Artists should be “sensitive” to consolidating the country's cultural identity and value system.
He called for the portrait to be removed from display and for an apology from Murray.
“After all, there is such a thing as a weakness in judgement with no deliberate intention to cause harm,” Selamolela said.
On Friday, the ANC launched an urgent court application in an attempt to stop the Goodman Gallery from displaying the painting, and the City Press from displaying a photo of it on its website.
The hearing would be held at the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, party spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.
The Sunday Times reported that the painting had already been sold for R136 000 to a German buyer. – Sapa