So our president does it yet again. He’s made the front pages of newspapers and got everyone’s tongues wagging and it’s not all positive (as usual). Hayi but this time even his ardent fans need to step back for a minute and admit that he’s become a matter of great concern.

Just to bring up to speed with the circus at play here; Sunday Times this past weekend led with the headline “Zuma fathers baby with Irvin Khoza’s daughter” which sparked great debate on Facebook and Twitter but I really do believe that many are missing the point or maybe even choosing not to see it at all.

Dtox Sundaes’ house DJ, truejOnes posted this on Facebook: “JZ at it again – it is a tad bit worrying when the head of our state is dropping babies and pushing game like he has nothing else to do like run a country- out in world conferences and instead of being asked about the state of our nation – he is being asked about his polygamy- is there a problem here or am i just a hater- ? hhhhmmmm?”

And a lot of the comments revealed a deep misunderstanding (or complete disregard) of the real issue at hand here.

“It’s the culture stop being so ignorant.”

Zuma’s culture dictates many things and polygamy is one of them, yes. However his relationship with his wives is not the issue at hand here. Polygamy is no license for men to sleep around and sow the seed of their loins at random. Even culture dictates fidelity to ones (four) wives. If we are going to defend this ‘culture’, let’s defend it in its entirety.

“Zuma has always been honest with his polygamy. Westerners don’t understand because it questions their belief system. always respect an honest man”

“He was right to refuse to explain himself. The white world needs to stop acting like they deserve an explanation for our existence!”

Our local politics have been so bedeviled by the race card that we feel the need to colour every debate. This is not a white/black Africa/West issue. Polygamy is not an African phenomenon, polygamy is practiced by Mormons in America, it is practiced in India, Indonesia Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon as well as most of Africa.

But again, polygamy is not the issue here. In a country and a continent so hard hit by Aids and HIV it’s is unacceptable for a leader to display such irresponsible sexual practices. Our very own government has embarked on an Aids campaign that discourages unprotected sex and multiple sex partners. How do we as a nation even begin respect leaders who say one thing and openly practice another?

“JZs love life is none of our business;”

“There’s really bigger problems out there than his personal life.”

I’m sorry, but for as long as a president’s wives and children are taken care of by the state, i.e. you and I the taxpayers, then the numbers of wives he marries and children he fathers is very much my business.

For as long as ignorance about Aids is shown by role models and irresponsible sexual practices continue to kill my peers, what the president of my country says about sex and Aids (both in words and in actions) is very much my problem.

I never thought I would ever defend polygamy but here goes…Mr. President, if you feel the need to be the official poster boy for all things cultural, stay true to all the teachings and not just those that serve what seems to be a rather insatiable appetite.

-Qhakaza Mbali Mthembu

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