Pushing for a place ‘nothing to do with jealousy’

2009-06-05 00:00

A ZULU tradition expert has warned about reading too much into media reports that one of President Jacob Zuma’s three wives pushed the other aside to slot herself into a position closest to the president during a picture-taking session in Parliament on Wednesday.

Ndela Ntshangase, a lecturer at the school of Zulu studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, played down the reported pushing aside of Zuma’s second wife maNtuli (Nompumelelo) by his third wife kaMabhija (Thobeka), saying there is nothing unusual about it.

It was reported yesterday that the jostling incident took place at Parliament in Cape Town when Zuma and his wives, including his first wife maKhumalo (Sizakele), posed for the press after he delivered his State of the Nation address.

Zuma was standing between maNtuli and maKhumalo when kaMabhija elbowed her way in between him and maNtuli, on Zuma’s right, so she could stand closest to their husband, thus displacing maNtuli.

It is said that although maNtuli did not resist, her face displayed annoyance.

Ntshangase told The Witness: “There is nothing unusual about it. It was clearly a coincidental thing. She might have done it oblivious to the possible vexation of the other one. They are not children to stoop to such grandstanding and they all know their positions and the rules of isithembu [polygamy].”

Ntshangase said the wives are not new to the polygamous marriage with the president and that they should know that it is an offence in the family to engage in jealous fights over positions in such a marriage in public.

“She is no fool; she just did it. It happens everywhere when people want to be in a good position during a photo shoot. Even when people are doing Zulu dancing they dislodge each other to get to the prime position and this is no sign of a conflict,” said Ntshangase.

Ntshangase’s reaction is in contrast to views that the posturing was a precursor to future incidents of jealousy when the wives accompany the president to major state functions.

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