Zuma's conduct 'undermines his own govt's message'

It is disrespectful to discuss the love child said to have been fathered by President Jacob Zuma with the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza, African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema said on Monday.

“We are Africans sitting here, all of us, and Zuma is our father so we are not qualified to talk about that,” he said at a briefing in Johannesburg after a meeting of the ANCYL national executive committee over the weekend.

Malema said the ANCYL would emphasise its HIV programme and “one boyfriend, one girlfriend” stance in an awareness action across the country.

He found it disrespectful to reply when asked whether Zuma was a good example to the youth.

In a statement on Monday, the ANC said that Zuma’s personal relationship with anyone remains a personal matter.

“Our view is that the matter between any two consenting adults remains their own personal affair, not in the interest of anyone,” said the ANC. “That goes for some individuals and some media institutions. For the record, President Zuma has gone on record sharing his belief in polygamy and has demonstrated his responsibilities and his responsiveness that comes with any of the relationships.

“As the ANC, we have always made a distinction between people’s personal affairs and their public responsibilities.
In so far as we are concerned, the alleged relationship of the president and anyone should be treated as such.

“We do not see the correlation between the ANC policies on HIV/Aids and the president’s personal relationships.”

The ANC further stated that the “unjustified attack to the president is disingenuous. There is nothing wrong that the president had done.”

The Presidency, meanwhile, described the issue as “an entirely private, personal matter”.

Zuma is registered as the father of the girl, who also bears his surname, and who was born to Sonono Khoza on October 8—three months before he married for a fifth time. She is reportedly his 20th child.

The Khozas have also not commented on the matter.

Cavalier attitude
Meanwhile, opposition parties accused Zuma on Monday of a cavalier attitude to safe sex that is hurting the HIV/Aids campaign after the news that a woman who is not one of his wives had had his 20th child.

The Democratic Alliance said Zuma (68) was sending the wrong message to South Africans, among the world’s worst sufferers from HIV/Aids.

“There are some people who may argue that Jacob Zuma’s sex life is a matter of private morality or ‘culture’, but this is not so. His personal behaviour has profound public consequences,” DA leader Helen Zille said in a statement.

At least 5,7-million South Africans live with HIV, and Aids kills an estimated 1 000 people a day.

The African Christian Democratic Party said Zuma was undermining the government’s drive to persuade people to practise safe sex to combat HIV/Aids.

“... his conduct undermines his own government’s message on HIV/Aids, because they are talking about safe sex and the president is continuing without using condoms. He is undermining the message of his government”, said ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.

The Presidency has said previously that Zuma has 19 children.

Zuma’s spokesperson was not available for comment.

Zuma married for the fifth time last month, taking Tobeka Madiba as his third current wife. Multiple marriages are allowed in South Africa and form part of Zulu culture, but the practice has drawn criticism from HIV/Aids activists.

Zuma defended polygamy at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. Asked whether he treated all his wives equally, Zuma replied: “Absolutely, totally equally.”

He is also married to Sizakele Zuma (67), his first wife who he wed in 1973, and Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, who he married in 2007.

He was previously married to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma whom he divorced in 1998 and Kate Mantsho-Zuma who committed suicide in 2000.

Public interest
The public has a right to an answer about reports that Zuma fathered a love child, analysts responded on Monday to the Presidency’s contention that the matter was private.

“I think it’s sufficiently of public interest to warrant media attention, because rightly or wrongly his private life has become a matter of public discussion,” said University of the Witwatersrand media ethics professor Franz Kruger.

“He, himself has been quite happy to talk about his polygamous arrangements. He is quite happy to invite media to his wedding. He has put it out there,” said Kruger, who has written a book on media ethics.

Kruger said that nobody was saying Zuma was not allowed to have the relationships.

The public just wanted “to know what the deal is”, in light of his endorsement of the government’s HIV/Aids policies.

Constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos said: “The more you become a public figure and the more your actions have public consequences and are publicly important, the less you can demand to have your privacy protected.

“A president of a country has far less right of privacy than, say, an ordinary person living in Khayelitsha. He is being paid from public money and his actions have consequences far beyond his own personal sphere as the leader of the country.”

De Vos said the crux of the matter was not a moral judgement of Zuma’s actions, but whether politicians made certain statements of principle and policy and their private behaviour did not measure up to those states policies and principles.

Both De Vos and Kruger felt that the child’s name should not have been published.—Sapa, Reuters