Johannesburg: South African President Jacob Zuma has reportedly dropped a four-year-old lawsuit against a cartoonist to avoid setting a legal precedent.
Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement that the President had decided to withdraw his claim, made in December 2008, against Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro and Avusa Media, the publishers of The Sunday Times and the newspaper`s editor at the time Mondli Makhanya ‘after careful consideration and consultation with his legal team’.
“The President... would like to avoid setting a legal precedent that may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech, with the unforeseen consequences this may have on our media, public commentators and citizens,” News24 quoted the spokesperson, as saying.
According to the report, Zuma had sought 5m Rand in damages for defamation and impairment of his personal dignity over the publication of Zapiro`s Lady Justice rape cartoon in September 2008.
Zuma dropped his claim that the cartoon harmed his dignity, but maintained that it had harmed his reputation, the report said.