Sunday, February 07, 2010

Zuma: I'm sorry for the pain I've caused you

President buckles under pressure from the public and senior ANC leaders

Feb 7, 2010 10:16 PM | By Moipone Malefane

President Jacob Zuma yesterday bowed to mounting public pressure and apologised to the nation for his sexual indiscretion.

SWEET MEET: President Jacob Zuma and Tobeka Madiba-Zuma feed each other wedding cake at their recent wedding reception. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
SWEET MEET: President Jacob Zuma and Tobeka Madiba-Zuma feed each other wedding cake at their recent wedding reception. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

In a statement released by the presidency, Zuma said: "I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC, the (tripartite) alliance and South Africans in general."

Zuma's apology came after a week of high drama following revelations by the Sunday Times last weekend that he had secretly fathered a child out of wedlock with Sonono Khoza, the daughter of soccer administrator Irvin Khoza.

The relationship with Sonono angered Khoza, a close friend of Zuma's who supported him in the president's previous brushes with the law.

The Sunday Times has established that Zuma's apology also came after pressure from a section of senior ANC leaders, who this week threatened to publicly criticise his behaviour if he did not apologise.

It is understood that there has been growing concern within the ANC that "unless something was done", Zuma's sexual escapades could cost the party at the next general election.

In his first public response earlier this week, Zuma sought to play down the scandal as he only acknowledged "paternity and responsibility, including the payment of inhlawulo (damages) to the (Khoza) family".

The ANC, which earlier this week also insisted the issue was a private matter, made a U-turn on Friday. In a statement that stopped short of apologising to the nation, the ruling party said "this experience, painful as it is, has taught" the party "many valuable lessons".

Finally bowing to public condemnation, the ANC also said it had "noted all the concerns and criticism raised by many South Africans through the media and in private conversations.

"The ANC, true to its character, has listened to and heard the concerns. President Jacob Zuma has also listened to and heard the concerns."

Yesterday, Zuma said he had "over the past week taken time to consider and reflect on the issues relating to a relationship I had outside of wedlock".

"The matter, though private, has been a subject of much public discussion and debate. It has put a lot of pressure on my family and my organisation, the African National Congress. I also acknowledge and understand the reaction of many South Africans."

Zuma reiterated his earlier statement that he took responsibility for his actions "towards the family concerned and the child ...

"I reaffirm my commitment and that of my movement to the importance of the family as an institution.

"I also reaffirm my commitment and that of my movement to the values of personal responsibility, respect and dignity. I recognise the responsibility of leaders to uphold and promote these values at all times," he said.

The apology followed a week of frenzied activity behind the scenes by both the ANC and the presidency.

Before yesterday's apology, the presidency had been frantically working on a strategy to ensure that this week's state of the nation address was not overshadowed by the scandal.

A strategy had already been devised to shield Zuma from media scrutiny to avoid questions about his sex life.

The strategy also involved limiting his interaction with the public and the media during his first public engagement in Cape Town today.

Zuma will today meet with the ANC regional task team in Paarl, Western Cape, before addressing "a cadres" forum at Embekweni township".

According to the ANC, he "will on Monday do a walkabout greeting people in Guguletu township".

An NEC member said this was part of the plan to prepare Zuma to face the nation on Thursday when he delivers his state of the nation address in parliament, where a series of activities have been planned to mark the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

The address is supposed to speak about the government's plan for the year, although it is also expected to focus on paying tribute to Mandela.

The scandal of Zuma's extramarital affair with Khoza appeared to be taking its toll on the president earlier this week before he confirmed that he has fathered a child with Sonono.

He immediately announced that he was taking two days off from work.

Defending himself earlier this week, Zuma said he had "done the necessary cultural imperatives in a situation of this nature; for example, the formal acknowledgement of paternity and responsibility, including the payment of inhlawulo to the family. The matter is now between the two of us, and culturally, between the Zuma and Khoza families".

This is the second time Zuma apologised to the nation for a similar offence.

After he was acquitted of rape in 2006, Zuma said: "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. For this I unconditionally apologise to all the people of this country."

Gender activist Mbuyiselo Botha said the president's apology did not address the issue of HIV/Aids in the country in that his actions "send a confusing and conflicting message to the entire country.

"The apology doesn't show remorse, especially when, in Africa, we are one of the countries with a high HIV-infection rate."

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi welcomed the apology and commended the president for doing the right thing. "We know it is not the first apology for a similar matter. A lot of people will appreciate and know the president does not take them for granted," he said.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu also welcomed the apology and said it was in keeping with the president's stature and the character of the ANC.

Rejecting the ANC's and Zuma's claims that the matter was a private one, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille insisted it was a public issue because Zuma was an elected leader.

"Elected leaders ... must be held to a higher standard. If their actions contradict their stated public positions (not to mention their government's policies) they must answer for that. And they must lead by example."

7 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

How is he going to feed all these woman when the ANC kicks him out?

Anonymous said...

Hello! How many times must he apologise before the sheeple finally stop falling for his crap? He is an embarrasment to the country. How can anyone take him seriously when he's stil mecking bebies at his age?? How many more don't we know about (or for that matter, doesn't he know about)? He deserves to be recalled...but wait, which arsehole is next in line to inherit?? Could it be JM?

Anonymous said...

A leader would have said: "I apologise to my family, South Africa, the ANC and the alliance."

This statement makes clear the absolute disdain that the powers that be have for the proles.

Anonymous said...

What gets me is his duplicity: first he justifies it on "cultural grounds" and then he apologises! WTF!!! If it's acceptable on cultural grounds then why is he apologising?

Dachshund said...

He certainly likes them chubby. He's got enough lard there to start a soap factory if things don't pan out for him president-wise.

Anonymous said...

Leave Zooma alone. So he likes a bit of cookie. So what? At least while he´s on the nest he´s not out there fucking the country up, and there is always the chance he´ll get aids and leave us sooner rather than later. Think of all the tax payer´s money that would save.

Exzanian said...

What I find amazing is that everybody is picking him up on being a randy old goat for screwing a bunch of happily complicit females but forgetting how he has given the judicial system in ZA the most Royal bum fuck it ever had.