President Jacob Zuma is to go ahead with his defamation suits against cartoonist Zapiro, write Leila Samodien in the Weekend Argus.

Zuma is claiming a total of R7-million in damages against Shapiro, in two civil actions.

The first stems from a cartoon that Zapiro – real name Jonathan Shapiro – penned during Zuma's rape trial in 2006, and the other is for his controversial "Lady Justice" cartoon, for which Zapiro recently won a Mondi Shanduka newspaper award.

Shapiro said on Saturday that the president, who had sworn at his inauguration to uphold the constitution, which protects freedom of speech, should drop the lawsuits.

And in a gesture of good faith, Shapiro has removed the shower-rose which has been attached to Zuma's head in his cartoons.

However, Zuma's spokesperson Thabo Masebe said that to his knowledge, the cases would continue. "The president has not said anything about dropping the lawsuits. So we can take it that for now, his position on the matter remains the same."

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