Cape Town--121028-Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro in his studio, after hearing that Jacob Zuma has effectively dropped the charges against him. Reporter Jason Felix. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - The process leading up the ANC's elective conference in Mangaung is depressing and does not bode well for South Africa, cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro said on Tuesday.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club, Shapiro, who is known as Zapiro, criticised some in the ANC for pushing to give President Jacob Zuma a second term as African National Congress president.

Zapiro said it was “ridiculous symbolically, and in terms of where the country was at the moment”.

He said there were a few positives he wanted to depict in his work. These included civil society organisations standing up to the government and criticising its spending patterns.

“I've already mentioned the way groupings within society are working together and being a kind of a curative, curbing those kind of excesses.”

Shapiro hoped more voices would be raised in opposition to the way the ANC was running the government.

“I think Zwelinzima Vavi is in a very interesting position because he sort of spans both camps,” he said, referring to the Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary.

“Maybe things will get so bad at some point that he'll break off with a number of others in various sectors.”

Where the ANC was concerned, he hoped there would be a “break-off to the left”.

He showed and discussed several of his controversial cartoons, some which have led to legal action against him.

They included the cartoon depicting Zuma unbuckling his belt while Lady Justice lies on the ground, being held down by the president's allies.

Last month, Zuma dropped a lawsuit against Zapiro involving this cartoon. He had originally claimed R4 million in damages and later reduced the amount to R100 000 before dropping the case completely.

Zapiro said he would not deny that the cartoon was defamatory.

“Why would I deny that I was saying something as hard as I possibly could, as harsh as I could?” he said.

Zapiro said his lawyers would have argued, had the matter gone to court, that although the cartoon was defamatory, it was also in the public interest and was a crucial issue to the country.

“These are nationally known figures and what we are saying is we can justify why I did a cartoon like this and why the Sunday Times published it.” - Sapa