In 1983 he became active in the newly formed anti-Apartheid movement, the United Democratic Front and as a result was arrested under the Illegal Gatherings Act and, subsequently, monitored by military intelligence. Zapiro was an important participant in South Africa’s End Conscription Campaign, designing its logo. After his military service he applied for and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York for two years.(wikipedia)
In 2006, former Deputy President of South Africa Jacob Zuma furthered his claim of being “tried by the media” and has threatened to bring defamation action against various elements of the press for remarks that he alleges are defamatory. Approximately R15 million of the R63 million rand demanded by his legal representatives are in connection with Zapiro cartoons.
In 2008, Zapiro met with further animosity, this time from the South African ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) over a cartoon that appeared in the Sunday Times on the 7th of September, 2008. The cartoon depicts a scene where the ANC president’s (Jacob Zuma) staunchest supporters (ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, secretary general of the ANC – Gwede Mantashe, SACP secretary general Blade Nzimande and Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi) are holding down Lady Justice, while Jacob Zuma is in a state of undress getting ready to “rape” Lady Justice. Mantashe, who is shown in the cartoon with a speech bubble containing “Go for it, boss”, labelled the cartoon “racist”, while ANC spokesperson Jesse Duarte said the cartoon is “vile, crude and disgusting”. Zapiro refuses to apologise for the cartoon. The African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the ANC Youth League released the joint statement. as a formal response to The Sunday Times, while the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) issued a separate press statement On 21 May 2010 the Mail and Guardian published a strip from Zapiro depicting the prophet Muhammed, as part of Everyone Draw Mohammad day. On 20 May 2010, the M&G had won an eleventh-hour court bid by the Council of Muslim Theologians to bar the publication of the cartoon. A week later, Zapiro released another cartoon in response to the various reactions to the original cartoon. In it he says that he will have to accept that exceptions will have to be made in regard to ‘religious censorship’. This was seen by some as a statement that he felt that his freedom of speech would have to have been limited because of those that were insulted by his cartoon which had graphically depicted the prophet Mohamed.
Zapiro’s work appears daily on the website of South African independent news publication, Mail & Guardian and weekly on the site of the Sunday Times.