"I have taken responsibilty": Zuma

2010-02-04 08:52

President Jacob Zuma yesterday acknowledged that he had a

relationship with Sonono Khoza, the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza, and

that they have baby girl.


“I said during World Aids Day that we must all take personal

responsibility for our actions. I have done so.


“I have done the necessary cultural imperatives in a situation of

this nature, for example the formal acknowledgement of paternity and

responsibility, including the payment of inhlawulo to the family,” Zuma said in

a statement issued on his behalf by the presidency.


“The matter is now between the two of us, and culturally, between

the Zuma and Khoza families.”


The Sunday Times reported that the child was born on October 8,

three months before Zuma married for a fifth time.

The girl was reportedly his

20th child.


According to the paper, a delegation acting on Zuma’s behalf

visited the Khoza family in December to discuss the Zulu customary damages,

inhlawulo, paid when a child is born out of wedlock.


The Times reported yesterday that it had evidence suggesting that

Zuma and Khoza were already married according to customary law.


In his statement, Zuma bemoaned the naming of the child’s parents

in public, which had “essentially exposed her to the public“.


This had serious implications in the long-term for her, and

amounted to the exploitation referred to in child protection legislation,

“because the media is making money out of the matter“.


He described it as “unfortunate” that the individuals involved were

being “unfairly subjected to harsh media exposure merely because of the

position” he occupied.


“The media is also in essence questioning the right of the child to

exist and fundamentally, her right to life. It is unfortunate that the matter

has been handled in this way,” he said.


Zuma said the rights of the media were respected and upheld, but

his own rights and that of the child and its mother were also to be

respected.


“These rights cannot be waived just because of a position one

occupies. I would request that the dignity and privacy of the affected

individuals in this matter be respected.”


Zuma was out of the country when the news of the child broke, but

after “careful deliberation” opted to comment on the “otherwise intensely

personal” matter.


He has labelled as “mischievous” Democratic Alliance leader Helen

Zille accusation that he has damaged the struggle against HIV/Aids.


In 2006, Zuma was acquitted of raping the HIV-infected daughter of

a close family friend.


Judge Willem van der Merwe found that Zuma had consensual sex with

her.


“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,” Zuma said after his acquittal.


However, Zille said on Sunday that this acknowledgement “has faded

from his memory, and he has once again succeeded in sending the wrong message to

the South African people“.


She has since urged him to apologise and behave.


“... We will intensify our efforts to promote prevention,

treatment, research and the fight against the stigma attached to the epidemic,”

Zuma said.


“We will also continue with our campaign to ensure that every South

African knows their HIV status and that all those who need it have access to

appropriate treatment.”


Zuma’s lovelife has been a hot topic of discussion on social

networking sites such as facebook and twitter.


While critics have denounced his sexual liaisons as a disgrace,

supporters have argued that his private life ought to remain private.


The ANC has stood firmly by him, maintaining that he has done

nothing wrong and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema has said it would be

“disrespectful” to even discuss the matter.


“We are Africans and sitting here all of us, Zuma is our father so

we are not qualified to talk about that,” he said in response to questions about

the baby.


Analysts, however, believe the public had a right to an

answer.


“I think it’s sufficiently of public interest to warrant media

attention, because rightly or wrongly his private life has become a matter of

public discussion,” said University of the Witwatersrand media ethics professor

Franz Kruger.

 

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