SA’s first family falling apart

2010-06-05 00:00

THE Zuma family — South Africa’s first family and once the advert for harmonious polygamous marriage — is fracturing under the spotlight.

This follows a letter sent to several media houses carrying unconfirmed allegations that President Jacob Zuma’s second wife Nompumelelo Ntuli (MaNtuli) is pregnant with the child of a bodyguard, who has since allegedly committed suicide.

The family has described the anonymous letter, claiming to be from “concerned family members”, as a smear campaign against MaNtuli, aimed at undermining the president.

However, sources close to the family say it is possible that a family member could be involved, given some of the details contained in the letter. There is also speculation that a close family friend who has since fallen out of favour with the president may be involved.

The sources said they are shocked that such allegations against MaNtuli are being aired in the public domain. But they said MaNtuli’s popularity within the family has declined following her “bad behaviour” when the president announced he was going to take another wife.

“She is not very popular within the family right now because of her rude behaviour,” said a source.

The furore surrounding the letter has exposed the cracks in Zuma’s polygamous marriage, with several newspapers divulging details of MaNtuli’s “meltdown” when she heard he was to take a third wife.

The Mail & Guardian reported that she was fined a goat in April for her “bad behaviour”.

The newspaper reports that MaNtuli “went berserk” when the president called her to Pretoria late last year to inform her of his pending nuptials. Ntuli allegedly broke security gates and lashed out at the police who guard Zuma.

Family spokesperson Khulubuse Zuma described the current furore as a continuation of the attack on the person of the president and his political career. He said it is particularly shameful and alarming that the president’s political enemies have now taken to masquerading as members of his family who spread malicious innuendo about him and his family. The spokesperson said the reports infringe on the rights and privacy of MaNtuli.

Sources said there will be a Zuma family meeting in Nkandla this weekend to thrash out this and other issues.

They added that, while no one saw the letter saga coming, they believed MaNtuli was unhappy, especially after she was embarrassed over unpaid electricity and water bills at her Durban home. It was as a salve to her feelings, people say, that Zuma took her both to the 25th Africa-France summit at the beginning of the week and on to India.

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