Normally, the birth of a child is an event that brings great joy to a household. In the case of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, however, it has brought embarrassment, shame and scandal. The problem for President Zuma stems from the fact that the child was born out of wedlock—the product of an illicit affair.
At first, Zuma took a page out of John Edwards‘ book and denied everything. The media was relentless in its prying, and Zuma was soon forced to admit that not only was the child was his, he looked forward to introducing it to its 19 brothers and sisters. The mother of the child, 30 years Zuma’s junior, is doing well, but at this point no one is sure how president Zuma’s three wives will react to her presence.
Another unknown is whether or not the president’s safe sex campaign will survive another scandal, as this isn’t the first time Zuma has been involved in one. In 2006, Zuma was acquitted of raping the HIV-infected daughter of a close family friend. After his acquittal, Zuma commented:
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.
In South Africa, where over 5 million people have the AIDS virus, the president’s affair has become a hot topic of debate, since he has personally appealed to his people to have “safe sex” and to “use a condom.”
For his part, Zuma has gone on the offensive, attacking the media for being “disrespectful” and “mischievous” in its reporting of the incident, going as far as blaming them for turning such a trifle into a scandal.
Zuma is, after all, the President; shouldn’t that make him above reproach?