Zuma fathers baby with Irvin Khoza's daughter

31 January 2010 - 02:42
By Prega Govender

President Jacob Zuma has fathered a child with the daughter of powerful soccer administrator and long-time friend, Irvin Khoza.

Sonono Khoza, a 39-year-old divorcée, was pregnant when her father, Orlando Pirates boss and chairman of the soccer World Cup local organising committee, was invited to share the stage with the newly elected president during a post-election bash at Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, in June last year.

It is unclear whether the "Iron Duke", as he is known, knew then who was the father of his unborn grandchild.

The Sunday Times can today reveal that Sonono gave birth to a girl on October 8 last year, barely three months before the country's most famous polygamist tied the knot for the fifth time.

Baby Thandekile Matina Zuma, now nearly four months old, has been registered in her father's name, and brings to 20 the number of children known to have been fathered by him - along with the 19 Zuma is officially said to have had, with his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, his late wife, Kate Zuma, and his current wives and girlfriends.

Sonono, who has two other children from a previous marriage, is an events manager in the marketing division at the Johannesburg headquarters of one of the major banks.

A close family friend has told the Sunday Times that a delegation from KwaZulu-Natal, acting on Zuma's behalf, visited the Khoza family in December last year to discuss the Zulu customary damages, inhlawulo, that are due when a child is born out of wedlock.

On the morning of Sunday, January 17, the arrival of Zuma's motorcade at the Khoza family's Diepkloof Extension , Soweto, mansion, piqued the interest of neighbours and set tongues wagging.

Zuma, who was in Johannesburg for the ANC's national executive committee lekgotla held between January 15 and 18, spent almost an hour with Sonono and her mother, Matina.

When the Sunday Times contacted Sonono for comment on Friday night, she said: "I don't know what you are talking about. I definitely don't know what you are talking," before terminating the call. She did not respond to an SMS asking for comment.

Asked how she felt about her new grandchild and the fact that Zuma was the father, Matina responded: "No, we are not excited."

Pressed to elaborate, she said: "I can't talk about (that). Bye."

Khoza, whose youngest daughter, Zodwa, died of Aids-related complications in 2006, was not home for either of the two meetings held to discuss the arrangements following the birth of the baby.

Several family friends told the Sunday Times that Khoza felt betrayed and humiliated by the president's relationship with his daughter, particularly as he considered Zuma - who is six years older than him - a friend.

Khoza was awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the University of Zululand for his role in the development of sport while Zuma was chancellor of the institution in 2004.

Repeated attempts to speak to Khoza about the matter were unsuccessful.

The president, who left Switzerland yesterday and is now in Ethiopia for an African Union summit, being held in Addis Ababa until February 2.

Zuma's spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, refused to comment yesterday.

Zuma's younger brother Michael Zuma said he was unaware of the child or the relationship.

The addition to Zuma's brood shows that the president has again had unprotected sex with a woman who is not his wife - something for which he apologised three and a half years ago.

In May 2006, following his acquittal on a charge of rape, Zuma made a speech in which he said: "As I testified in court, under oath, I am HIV-negative, having undergone an HIV test in March this year. I wish to state categorically and place on record that I erred in having unprotected sex.

"I should have known better and I should have acted with greater caution and responsibility."

In clearing Zuma of rape, the court found that he had had consensual sex - with the daughter of another friend. "Kwezi", as the woman was identified during the trial, was the daughter of one of Zuma's closest friends and comrades in exile and referred to him as malume (uncle).

Zuma's polygamy, which is a source of much public debate, was again thrust into the spotlight this week at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Asked by Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria, who was moderating a panel on South Africa, about his "many wives" and whether he loved all of them equally, Zuma responded, "Absolutely," drawing howls of laughter from the crowd.

The birth of the latest baby has triggered speculation that Zuma may be planning to take another wife, which could land up costing taxpayers. According to the ministerial handbook for members of the executive and presiding officers, spouses legally married to the member in a polygamous marriage are entitled to a variety of benefits.

Zuma's wives are each entitled to a personal assistant, a post worth R145920 per year. Air travel, medical expenses and security costs for the spouses are also borne by the state.

His first wife is Sizakele Khumalo, who he married in 1973 and who lives at his homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. He has no children with her. As well as his late wife, Kate, and his ex-wife, Dlamini-Zuma, in 2008 Zuma married Nompumelelo Ntuli with whom he has two children. Earlier this month he tied the knot with Tobeka Madiba-Zuma, with whom he has three children.

He is engaged to 45-year-old Gloria Bongekile Ngema, with whom he has one child, and has an adult son with Minah Shongwe. - Additional reporting by Shanaaz Eggington