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All the president’s children

You’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint all 20 of President Jacob Zuma’s children. Where did the figure come from? The Presidency previously put out a press release following the intense interest in Zuma’s polygamous lifestyle, putting the number at 19. The recent uproar around his “love child” with Irvin Khoza’s daughter brings that figure up to 20, presumably.

But a source close to the extended family told the Mail & Guardian Online that the number of presidential offspring was “way more” than that. Given Zuma’s several children out of wedlock, this could be the case, but could not be confirmed.

We used several sources to come up with the list of children below, and reached number 19.

Most are from the wives we know of, while several other “love children” fill out the list. Like the three children — a girl and a set of twins (his second) — from a mysterious so-called “coloured” woman from Johannesburg, according to a 2007 report. The girl apparently lives with Zuma’s newest wife, Tobeka Madiba, whom he married last month causing another small media storm.

Madiba, contrary to former reports, seems to only have one child with Zuma, whose name is unknown. The third child in her household is from a former relationship.

  • Exactly how much do Zuma’s children cost the taxpayer? Read our previous Home Economics to find out.

By no means definitive, the list nonetheless includes a few of Zuma’s adult children who have come to public attention for reasons both glamorous and nefarious.

The bling twins
Twins Duduzile and Duduzane (27) have earned a reputation for their blinged-out lifestyle. Duduzile’s birthday bash last year April at the Inanda Club in Sandton attracted 600 guests. The party teemed with high-profile celebrities, politicians and models, including socialite Khanyi Mbau, notorious ANC Youth League president Julius Malema and former Miss SA Tansey Coetzee. Guests had access to an open bar, which flowed with Hennessy Cognac Veuve Clicquot.

Not to be outdone, her brother, Duduzane, reportedly celebrated the festive season last year in style aboard the world’s largest passenger ship, The Oasis of the Seas, where he apparently stayed in a suite costing between R150 000 and R250 000 per week, according to Rapport.

It seems their mother’s fretting about their material needs in her suicide note was unfounded.

Mozambican Kate Mantsho described her life with Zuma in hellish terms in her 2000 suicide note. Zuma’s third wife, as she was then, seemed to have faced a harsh struggle raising her five children in Zuma’s pre-presidential days, reliant on businessmen and friends of her husband for handouts.

“Please, please will you take care of my dear children, you must not let them starve since I’ll be gone, pay their school fees to enable them to further their studies,” she begged of Reverend Frank Chikane, to whom the note was addressed. “Seeing that I won’t be around to borrow money from friends … secure guarantee [for] the apartment in Killarney for my kids to stay without any eviction orders.”

Duduzile seems to have been grounded somewhat by her mother’s tragic death.

While something of a daddy’s girl who stood firmly by his side during his rape trial, giving crucial evidence in his defence, she has also created a charity called the Dudu Zuma Foundation for underprivileged women and children — with a special interest in suicide.

The celebrity
Gugulethu Zuma, or Gugu as she is known, has quietly worked her way to personal and career success seemingly without riding on her father’s coattails. The actress made headlines in December 2008 when she married her college sweetheart, Wesley Ncube — who just happened to be the son of an opposition leader in Zimbabwe: Movement for Democratic Change general secretary Welshman Ncube. The union drew much attention, not least because of the politics of the region, with the ANC criticised in the past for failing to exert enough pressure on reviled Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

The 25-year-old also recently landed a role in popular local soapie, Isidingo, after playing other minor roles on our television screens.

A dedicated Christian, she has laughed off following in her father’s footsteps. “Politics just isn’t in my blood,” she once told Beeld. “But not everyone who wants to give and help others is involved in politics. There are other ways of reaching out to people besides being a politician.”

The controversial firstborn
Edward Zuma (33) has made headlines for altogether different reasons. He was arrested on October 22 2000 for allegedly raping a fellow student at the University of Zululand, the Witness reported. The information came to light in the course of Zuma’s own corruption probe in 2006, after allegations that his “financial adviser” Schabir Shaik arranged payments to the alleged victim once she dropped the case.

The charges were withdrawn and a few days after Edward’s arrest Zuma’s office issued a statement saying the two parties had discussed the matter and resolved it amicably. However, a Noseweek report later revealed the MD of one of Shaik’s companies queried payments made to the girl from company accounts.

Sabeer Sheik-Ibrahim, the former MD of Kobitech Transport Systems, afterwards told the Mail & Guardian the woman had been receiving about R7 000 a month.

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Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

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