Zuma love-child: No comment

2010-02-01 14:22

Johannesburg - Neither the ANC nor the presidency would comment on a report that President Jacob Zuma fathered a child out of wedlock, amid claims that if the report is true, he had undermined efforts to eradicate HIV/Aids by having sex without a condom.

"I'm not going to comment on that matter. All those enquiries must be answered by the presidency," said Ishmael Mnisi, spokesperson for the ruling ANC, which Zuma heads.

"I'm referring you to the relevant people who will speak to you on this matter."

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: "That's an entirely private personal matter. That's all I can tell you on record - I cannot tell you more or less."

Pressed to comment on the concerns on condom use, levelled by the opposition Democratic Alliance, he responded: "Again, it's an entirely private and personal matter."

The Sunday Times reported that Zuma had fathered a child with Sonono Khoza, the daughter of soccer tycoon and World Cup local organising committee chairperson Irvin Khoza.

Zuma defends polygamy

The child was reportedly born on October 8 last year, three months before he married for a fifth time in line with his practice of polygamy.

The child reportedly brings to 20 the number of Zuma's children.

The report continued that a two-member 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.

Zuma has publicly defended his choice of polygamy, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

But, DA leader Helen Zille believed that Zuma was damaging the struggle against HIV/Aids.

'I should have known better'

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 "that acknowledgement has faded from his memory, and he has once again succeeded in sending the wrong message to the South African people".

The Sunday Times article had yielded 191 comments, with over 70 to a follow up article by midmorning on Monday.

"Another conspiracy to tarnish the image of the president? Until this is officially confirmed by the president I will regard it as hearsay."

The comments continued: "Ag no, sies man! Does he want to become the 'Father of the Nation" by sheer weight of children?"


Meanwhile, newspapers followed up the report with headlines like: "Baby, you'll pay - Zuma's 20th child adds to taxpayers expenses" in the Citizen.

Even financial broadsheet Business Day covered the matter and The Star anchored its front page with "Zille resumes attack on Zuma's sex life".

Beeld wrote "Zuma's 20th shows he forgot apology".

The Sowetan led with "Shame of the Nation" and a front page editorial saying "in a different democracy, the latest scandal to hit President Jacob Zuma would have been enough for him to stand down as head of state".

The Daily Sun wrote "The Office of the President was as silent as the womb yesterday on reports that President Zuma has a child with the daughter of Orlando Pirates boss, Irvin Khoza."

The UK Guardian lifted the story, as did the UK's Times Online with the latter calling him the "continent’s most famous polygamist", and a UK Telegraph article calling him "a proud Zulu traditionalist".

The BBC report commented that "Zuma's colourful private life is never far from the headlines".

His Wikipedia entry was also updated.

Neither of the Khozas were immediately available to comment.