Both the ANC and the ANC Women's League (ANCWL) on Friday afternoon sharply criticised an artwork by controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu depicting presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma engaged in sexual activity, as President Jacob Zuma stands with his genitals exposed.
In pictures of the artwork, widely shared on social media, Zuma is seen with his genitals exposed as Dlamini-Zuma lies in a compromising position on her back.
Zuma holds a chain tied around a woman's neck.
In a statement, ANCWL spokesperson Meokgo Matuba said Mabulu was "a rented tool used by the enemies of the ANC to assassinate characters of ANC leaders".
"Mr Mabulu is just an unfortunate mentally colonised artist who has been brainwashed [to think] that the political leaders, in particular Africans, must be attacked without shame and remorse," Matuba said.
"He is one of the lost souls in the hands of the exploiters advancing their wishes for the return of the pre-1994 apartheid and colonialism system.
"[The painting] is a desperate move by the white monopoly capital and their praise singers, using a rented black painter to tarnish the image of these leaders hoping that it will stop the winding wheels of radical economic transformation."
Freedom of expression comes with reponsibility
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa called the painting an "affront not only to the individuals he regularly defiles but to the very founding values of our nation and an insult to our collective morality".
"Mabulu has no conception of our societal mores and is a disgrace to any attempt that may or may not have been made to socialise him on our shared morality," Kodwa said in a statement.
He called on the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and "others who profess to stand for the defence of the Constitution" not to turn a blind eye to the painting.
Sanef secretary-general Reggy Moalusi said the organisation respected the artist's right to freedom of expression.
"With the right to freedom of expression, however, comes the responsibility to ensure we do not defame people," he said.
Mabulu could not be reached for comment.
This is not the first time Mabulu has attracted criticism for depicting South African leaders in a sexual manner.
Mabulu made headlines in 2012 when he painted several works depicting Zuma naked and in compromising positions.
A painting titled Umshini Wam (bring my machine), showed the president wearing traditional Zulu regalia with his right leg raised and his genitals exposed.
In July 2016, Zuma's son, Edward, threatened to assault Mabulu after he painted Zuma engaging in a sexual act with one of the Gupta brothers.
In April this year, Mabulu was criticised by the Nelson Mandela Foundation after he painted Zuma raping former president Nelson Mandela.
The foundation said while it respected the artist's right to freedom of expression, it found the artwork "distasteful". -- News24Suggest a correction