Zuma 'as bad as Mbeki 'on Aids
President Jacob Zuma stands accused of undermining his own government's battle against the spread of HIV/Aids.
Zuma, who was only recently hailed as a breath of fresh air after he announced government's official break with former president Thabo Mbeki's "Aids denialist" era, was slammed by opposition parties for not practising what he preaches.
This follows revelations in the Sunday Times that Zuma, who already has three wives, a fiancée and 19 known children, has fathered a child with a 39-year-old daughter of Orlando Pirates and soccer World Cup boss Irvin Khoza.
The newspaper reported that Sonono Khoza gave birth to a baby girl, Thandekile Matina Zuma, on October 8 last year, about three months before Zuma married for the fifth time.
It also revealed that Irvin Khoza, six years Zuma's junior and a close friend, was upset about the relationship.
Khoza, who is also chairman of the Premier Soccer League, could not be reached for comment.
However, Sonono Khoza, a banking executive, yesterday told The Times that she would be seeking legal advice about the story.
"My family's privacy has been disrespected. I have no comment on the story and will be seeking legal counsel [against the media]," she said.
But the saga has sparked off a new political storm, with opposition parties accusing the President of sending confusing messages about HIV/Aids and morality, especially to the youth.
DA leader Helen Zille said Zuma - who is currently in Ethiopia for an African Union summit - was causing the same kind of damage to the struggle against the spread of the pandemic as Mbeki's denialism.
"South Africa now has a president who, both through his words and actions, is doing similar damage to the struggle [against HIV/Aids] - a life and death struggle for millions of South Africans," Zille said.
"President Zuma's behaviour directly contradicts the government's campaign against multiple sexual partners, and the inherent Aids risk in having unprotected sex."
Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said: "He is the one who is always preaching responsible sexual behaviour, but it seems he is sending a message which says 'Don't do as I do, do as I say."
De Lille said Zuma was hiding behind his culture to justify his many sexual partners.
"I'm not sure it is part of his culture to have so many children. Ideally, children should grow up with the guidance of both parents but it is impossible for him to be a father figure in the lives of all his children. The revelations about his private life do not fit with his position as president of the country," she added.
The ACDP's Reverend Kenneth Moshoe likened Zuma to golf legend Tiger Woods, who was recently exposed as having cheated on his wife with multiple partners.
"We recommend [Zuma] goes for sex addiction therapy as Tiger Woods did," the reverend said.
He said the birth of the child was "clear indication he [Zuma] is not using condoms and is undermining the safe sex message of his own government".
"The ACDP is shocked by the report and finds it unacceptable for a head of state not to take morality seriously and set such a bad example, particularly for young men in the country. South Africa must demand leaders who are morally accountable," he said.
ANC spokesman Brian Sokutu confirmed that Zuma had paid inhlawulo, an Nguni custom of paying for damages when a child is born out of wedlock. He also said the matter was between the two families.
"In terms of the African custom of inhlawulo, it appears as if this has been sorted out. It is important that we respect this custom and that the privacy of the two families [Zuma and Khoza] should be respected," he said.
He then accused opposition parties of being opportunistic and disrespectful of the president.
"It is disrespectful to get political mileage out of a private, personal issue which has been sorted out. If inhlawulo has been complied with, then there is no issue at all. It is opportunistic of political parties to make noise of this."
Asked for comment yesterday, Zuma's most vocal backer - ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema said: "What is political about this? You [journalists] must call me on political issues, not social issues."
Political analyst Professor Steven Friedman said that Zuma having a child out of wedlock was "not an issue".
Friedman said: "Zuma is a polygamist and has multiple partners and he has been public about this. I think we are mature enough to distinguish between politician's private [and public] lives."