Sunday, May 10, 2009

Comrade Zuma's ladies

While it is customary before an election to wonder who will emerge as first lady, it’s unusual to ask the question when only one man can possibly be president.

Jacob Zuma is about to take power in South Africa but the identity of his official consort is an open field. The gregarious president-in-waiting has married five times, although one wife has divorced him and another committed suicide.

The favourite is Nompumelelo Ntuli, a 34-year-old from the same rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, whom he married a little over a year ago. But she is not the newest wife as Thobeka Mabhija, a Durban socialite with whom Zuma is said to have two children, was wedded to him this January.

MaNtuli, as last year’s wife is known, also faces a challenge from Zuma’s first wife, Sizakele Khumalo. They have been together for 50 years and married in 1973, but MaKhumalo is rarely at official engagements and never speaks in public.

The 67-year-old has not hidden his polygamy which is allowed under a 1998 law recognising customary marriage practices. It is traditional for a Zulu elder to have several wives. Zuma often sounds bemused at the attention his marriages attract, pointing out that his approach is preferable to the hypocrisy of leaders in other countries who have kept mistresses. “I love my wives and I’m proud of my children,” is his stock response. Those children are reported to number at least 15, although many more women have claimed to have had children by the politician. Zuma’s camp has refused to comment on who is ahead in the race to be first lady, and told people to wait until after his inauguration. There can be only one name admitted to the spousal office of the presidency at Pretoria.

Zuma, who has no formal education, joined the ANC aged 17. Like Mbeki, he has served it all his life, much of it in exile in Mozambique and Zambia. 

MaNtuli is the pundits’ favourite after a speaking appearance last month, and could well be in the photograph with Carla Bruni or Michelle Obama when the new president goes on tour...

Number one
Sizakele Khumalo - whom he met in 1959. She lives at his rural R1.5 million home at Nkandla in northern KwaZulu- Natal and they have no children.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - with whom he had four children: Msholozi, 24, Gugu, 22, Thuli, 21 and Thuthi, 19. They divorced in June 1998 due to "irreconcilable differences."

Late wife
Kate Zuma - with whom he had five children: Saady, 29, twins Duduzile and Duduzane, 25, Phumzile, 20 and Vusi. She committed suicide on December 8, 2000 after apparent strained relations with Zuma.

Still on honeymoon
Nompumelelo Mantuli Zuma - whom he married in January. She has two children: Thandiswe, 7 and eight month old Sinquobile.

Waiting in the wings
Thobeka Stacey Mabhija - with whom he has two children, including a 5 month old baby.

Mrs Jacob Zuma number six?
Bongi Ngema - from Umlazi, has a seven month old son.

Old flame
Minah Shongwe - The sister of Judge Jeremiah Shongwe, has a 30 year old son, Edward, with Zuma.

Left at the altar
Zuma also paid half lobolo for Swazi Princess Sebentile Dlamini, 38, the granddaughter of King Sobhuza III, in 2002 but nothing has come out of it.

So, there we have it: 5 Marriages, 1 Half lobolo, 3 sleeping partners and 13 to 18 Children, depending on who you ask. Check the age differences between the children from different mothers, ya neh, UZuma wa sebenziza um'shini wakhe!

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