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Is Zuma's sex life of public interest?

Are the president's extra curricula activities really that big a deal when it comes to running South Africa?

Last modified: 3 Feb 2010 22:41
Photo by AFP

South African president Jacob Zuma has admitted to fathering his 20th child – out of wedlock. After days of speculation on whether he really was the father, he finally issued a statement laying the facts on the table.

Zuma is a controversial political figure and his love life is a hot topic of discussion on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. 

So is it really anyone’s business how many wives or how many children the man has? Are his extra curricula activities really that big a deal when it comes to running South Africa?

I’ve heard a lot of black men, in my circle of friends, praise Zuma calling him a "real man", who "knows how to handle his women" and a "stud in bed".

Some even vow to follow in his footsteps – maybe not going as far as having 20 children but die trying at least.

The women are more hostile towards him. I suppose in their back of their minds they could be wondering what their men are up to – if a president is clearly very "busy".

But is his sex life really anyone’s business? It could be. South Africa has nearly six million people living with HIV/Aids. An estimated 1,000 people die of Aids related illnesses everyday – is Zuma setting a good example?

He says he is only doing what his culture allows him to do. He is a proud polygamist and does not apologise for it. He’s married five times. It’s part of the Zulu culture - and it is. Polygamy is even in the South African constitution. In many African cultures polygamy is the norm.

If it’s not formally done then men have what we call "a small house" – a place where the mistress or mistresses stay. 

There is also a belief the more children one has – especially sons – the more wealthy society sees you.

But given the fact that he is a president and Aids in a big problem in South Africa should Zuma perhaps put his culture aside for the "good" of the country? He is a very public figure. Should he perhaps be using his position to help fight the disease? Has he brought the office of the president into disrepute?

Critics say yes – and the South African media is crucifying him – calling him "a sex addict", a "womaniser", "unsophisticated" and "an embarrassment".

Outspoken Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille says his actions have damaged the struggle against HIV/Aids. 

I think he should be in the media for what he is doing to run the country – not his sexual escapades. Yes he is entitled to his private life – but maybe his advisers should consider the implications of his actions.

At the very least learn how to hide the president’s indiscretions from the public eye.

I wonder what South African tax payers think about footing the bill for child number 20?