Marius Redelinghuys
Marius Redelinghuys

Umshini wethu weSex

Had this been any other country (with the possible exception of Italy), there would have been an uproar over the latest instalment in the increasingly scandalous public life of Jacob Zuma. It astonishes me that there has not been spontaneous calls for the president to step down within government and that his comrades have actually come to his defence.

The trials and tribulations of influential people like Tiger Woods, Joost van der Westhuizen and Bill Clinton have led to sponsors withdrawing support, being fired from television programmes and impeachment attempts. I guess this is too much to ask when it comes to the evidently untouchable highest office in South Africa in which the day-to-day affairs resemble the plot of a cheap soapie.

Media favourite, Comrade JuJu, claimed it is disrespectful to discuss the sex life of elders, and in particular, that of the first citizen. A startling admission from the man that has repeatedly disrespected elders in opposition parties, ranging from the Congress of the People to the Inkatha Freedom Party. It further smacks of hypocrisy following his highly publicised utterances about Helen Zille’s sex life with her harem of male concubines, as he claimed.

Worst yet, however, is the Communication Workers’ Union defiantly declaring that “the media’s obsession and interference at President Zuma’s private life aims at re-engineering society to conform to the capitalist sex ‘norm’ of one man and one woman for life, thus denying the complexity of human sexuality”. Gone are the days when the purpose of a union was to defend the rights and interests of its members, not the sexcapades of the president. It is clear that “complexity of human sexuality” does not include recognition of diversity in sexual orientation, because I don’t remember the union taking the president to task over his homophobic remarks and support for another homophobe, Jon Qwelane, the soon-to-be high commissioner to Uganda.

It is also incredibly foolish to equate capitalism with monogamy, when the rise of polyamory, divorce and extra-marital affairs in post-industrial, post-modern and post-Christian societies testify to the lack of a causal relationship.

Hypocrisy and double standards have also evidently become the norm in ANC circles and the presidency, when the man who is in no position to call anyone else “mischievous” readily labels the media as such, and makes recourse to constitutional rights and liberties when it suits him, and disregard them with equal ease.

I also guess it is too much to ask from the traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal firmly in the net of government patronage to speak out against the president’s behaviour, a man who has the potential to tarnish and do more damage to the understanding and perception of Zulu culture, customs and traditions than anyone else.

This, when fathering a child out of wedlock, according to UKZN lecturer Ndela Nelson Ntshangase, is not acceptable in Zulu culture. Although people need not be experts on Zulu culture if it is believed that inhlawulo, or damages, were paid. To be fair, Ntshangase claimed “that as a married Zulu man, Zuma was permitted to date another woman. He was not obliged to tell his wives about such a relationship”.

Zuma ascension to the presidency has been a fancy way of going on social welfare, having taxpayers foot the bill for his wives and offspring. The revelations that the president is taking a two-day break from romp and circumstance following his visits abroad also speak volumes about his commitment to and determination to deliver on the election mantra of “working together we can do more”. The together clearly did not include Mr President.

Work ethic, ethical and moral behaviour seem to elude the embattled man, the rumoured victim of an on-going conspiracy to undermine his character and standing. Methinks umshini wethu weSex is doing a fine job at it himself, without the aid of a “third force”.


* Thanks to Mputhumi Ntabeni for the grammatically correct title.