JZ's wives 'double trouble'

19 September 2011 - 02:05 By KHETHIWE CHELEMU

Neither the presidency nor the SA National Defence Force were willing to explain President Jacob Zuma's decision to take two of his wives on a US trip.

Zuma yesterday jetted out to New York, where he is expected to attend the 66th UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Yesterday City Press reported that Zuma would be accompanied by his wife Thobeka Madiba and fiancee Bongi Ngema-Zuma, who also qualifies as an official spouse.

Presidency spokesman Bongani Majola refused to comment, saying the SANDF handled the president's flight schedule and that these flights fell within the defence force's budget.

The presidency also said last night that Madiba went to New York "on a separate programme, attending the World Health Organisation's session on the economics of non-communicable diseases, which is her area of focus".

Ngema is scheduled to receive an award for her work with cancer patients and Madiba, the newspaper reported, is due to ring the opening bell at Nasdaq to mark the start of trading.

The newspaper reported there was animosity between the president's wives over international trips and that having to make arrangements for two first ladies was a diplomatic nightmare.

Madiba and Ngema will sleep in separate hotels and will be accompanied by separate entourages because they have different schedules.

The second leg of Zuma's US trip will take him to Houston, Texas, where he will be presented with an honorary degree by Texas Southern University.