Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Zuma ‘deeply regrets’ love-child pain

South African President Jacob Zuma apologised on Saturday for fathering an illegitimate child, in the face of a national outcry.

Critics say Zuma, a Zulu traditionalist who practises polygamy and currently has three wives and 20 children including the baby he fathered with another woman, has set a bad example in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/Aids.

“I have over the past week taken time to consider and reflect on the issues relating to a relationship I had outside of wedlock,” Zuma said in a statement on Saturday, acknowledging it “has been a subject of much public discussion and debate”.

‘Importance of the family’
“It has put a lot of pressure on my family and my organisation, the African National Congress. I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC, the alliance and South Africans in general,” he said, reaffirming his commitment to “the importance of the family as an institution”.

On Tuesday Zuma, who married for the fifth time last month, taking Thobeka Madiba as his third current wife, confirmed reports he had fathered a child with Sonono Khoza, daughter of Irvin Khoza who heads the local organising committee for the Soccer World Cup.

Khoza gave birth to a girl in October last year. The presidency has said previously that Zuma has 19 children. Zuma said on Tuesday he had formally acknowledged paternity and made a traditional payment of inhlawulo [damages] to Khoza’s family.

The Saturday Star quoted unnamed senior party officials as saying Zuma had plunged the ANC party into crisis by breaking a pledge he made after being elected party leader in 2007 “not to embarrass the ANC with other sexual revelations”.

Multiple marriages are allowed in South Africa and form part of Zulu culture, but have drawn criticism from HIV/Aids activists. At least 5,7-million South Africans are infected and an estimated 1 000 people die from the syndrome each day.

Zuma, who has repeatedly defended polygamy, including at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, has said he will not deviate from the HIV/Aids campaign.

‘Integrity, honesty’
The ANC welcomed Zuma’s apology.

“The ANC welcomes and appreciates the president’s statement regarding his personal and prviate relationships,” said ANC spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi in a statement.

“In his response the president has shown integrity and honesty, thereby taking the country and its citizenry in his confidence,” he said.

The ANC again asked political parties and the public to give the families concerned privacy and “the opportunity to reflect on this matter”. – Reuters, Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘The children cannot cope any more’: Suicide in Calvinia highlights...

How Covid-19 has intensified the physical and emotional burdens placed on children’s shoulders.

Capitec Bank flies high above Viceroy’s arrow

The bank took a knock after being labelled a loan shark by the short seller, but this has not stymied its growth

More top stories

Covid-19: No vaccine booster shots needed yet

Scientists agree it is important to get most of the population vaccinated before giving booster jabs

The convenient myth of an Africa spared from Covid-19

There are few, if any, studies to support Pfizer chief executive’s assertion that the global south would be more vaccine-hesitant than the north

Council wants Hawks, SIU probe into BAT’s Zimbabwe scandal

The cigarette maker has been accused of giving up to $500 000 in bribes and spying on competitors
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×