First Zaipiro with the shower-headed Jacob Zuma and now laughitoff, a satirical South African blog, has been selling a shower bath product with Jacob Zuma’s name attached to it for the past few months. The label advises: “After intense physical activity use … gel for an invigorating cleansing experience.” With coverage in The Times, the BBC, and other blogs, it seems to be the hot product for this election season.
Though it might be too clever for the ANC’s liking, and with Zuma riding his political capital at the moment and going after cartoonist Zaipiro, the ANC is said to be considering legal action against laughitoff.. This is just another example in the long list of others, that the ANC pictures itself as above the state, and thus above criticism or satire. Obviously the recent failure to achieve a 2/3 majority in the parliament has done nothing to dent the ANC’s hubris.
One must believe that its not until satirists and critics are accepted by the ANC as part and parcel of democracy that South Africa will take the next step. Obviously simply accepting satire is not the only thing that must be done, but when a cultural exists that accepts criticisms and does not attempt to label it libelous, a atmosphere will exist to promote greater thought, introspection, and debate on the serious issues.
Where that society can be found in the world today is hard to pinpoint. As much fun as Americans and Britons make of their politicians, there are still a minority of their supporters who will not tolerate the abuse and satire that is thrown at their candidate.
However it turns out, well-played to laughitoff….now if only it was available in the US. Make sure to check out the advert that is going viral.