Artist protests against Zuma’s kleptocracy

Cape Town – Artists can and should add their voice to the protest against the kleptocracy of Jacob Zuma, says South African artist and writer Michael Lee.

Lee’s art work entitled ‘Dial 666 for Special Deals’ speaks out against the President’s unilateral firing of the highly respected and trusted Finance Minister, Mr Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy in a late-night cabinet reshuffle on 30 March 2017.

“It is not just the South African Rand that is in free fall, but also the hopes of all South Africans who crave honest government in a free and democratic South Africa,” said Lee, who is also a qualified futurist and member of the Association of Professional Futurists. “Zuma has constructed a kleptocracy, completing his Gupta-inspired state capture in a calculated Machiavellian move that has sent shudders through the markets, economy, political system and general public.”

Dial 666 for Special Deals’ depicts a gleeful President calling 666 to get advice for his next deal or move. In the Bible, the number triple six symbolises the antichrist.

“The temperature of the painting is very hot,” Lee said. “Zuma’s entire system of patronage and cronyism will unravel one day because it is based on a lie and certainly not in line with the constitution. Only then will South Africa see that the wheels of justice have turned once again as they always do in the end.”

The art work was included among 60 original art works that were on show at the V&A Waterfront earlier in March in Lee’s first solo exhibition titled “A Bridge of Light”. Other works exhibited included the artist’s Inspired series, which features evocative portraits of South Africans who have played a positive role in the country’s politics, history, sport, culture, literature, medicine or business. These include the four Nobel Peace Prize winners, namely Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, Albert Luthuli and Desmond Tutu, as well as Jan Smuts, Sol Plaatje, Nadine Gordimer, Thuli Madonsela, Prof Christiaan Barnard, Robert Sobukwe, Helen Suzman, Gary Player, Jacques Kallis, Thabo Mbeki, Athol Fugard, Helen Zille, Miriam Makeba, Alan Paton, Dr Beyers Naude, Sol Kerzner, Charlize Theron, Clem Sunter, Trevor Manuel, Chad le Clos and Francois Pienaar.

“Art can inspire as well as be a means to protest,” said Lee. “In the case of the work, ‘Dial 666 for Special Deals,’ it has become impossible for ordinary, truth-loving South Africans like me to remain silent about the vulgar abuse of power taking place at the highest levels in our beloved land.”