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The President, the cigar and the soccer boss’ daughter

Lifestyle Section - Comment


It seems that our President has transgressed again, and the nation is once more agog with his latest romantic exploits. The number of column centimetres and airtime devoted to his dalliance and its outcome with Sonono Khoza, daughter of soccer big cheese “Iron Duke” Irvin, would be the envy of any PR company seeking publicity for a significant client. In fact, money cannot buy this order of publicity.

As is so often the case, the media is accused by various big-wigs in the tri-partite alliance of focusing on the negatives and ignoring the positives, which of course, is patently untrue. While I’m not trying to suggest that there are no positives it seems to me that the negatives are always so sensational, that they simply overshadow the positives such as they are.

But I digress. Msholozi had a fling with Sonono Khoza. Sonono had a baby. Msholozi stepped up to the plate and admitted patrimony (albeit after a long, loud silence in the face of mounting criticism), and agreed to pay “ihlawulo” (customary damages). Case closed.

Or is it?

The chronology of events tells us that the baby girl, Thandekile Matina (Gran’s name) Zuma, registered in her Dad’s name, was born a few months before Msholozi tied the knot for the fifth time. He now has 20 official kids.We also know that the sex was unprotected, and that it wasn’t within the marital relationship(s). And we also know that this has happened before, except last time, it was with an HIV positive woman. The rape charge didn’t stick, but the stigma of having unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman in a society reeling under the onslaught of an HIV infection rate among the highest in the world, certainly did.

After he was acquitted of the rape charge in May 2006, Msholozi spoke to the nation. He apologised for the anguish, embarrassment and damage that his actions had wrought on our country, its people and the Party. While he might not have said in as many words “It will never
happen again” it is reasonable to expect that such disclaimer was implicit in his statement: “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.” Clearly it was not.

So, at the end of the day, what has Msholozi done wrong?

Is it about the fact that our President has had more than one extra-marital relationship? As somebody pointed out the other day, people have extra-marital affairs everyday, and they generally don’t get held up for public scrutiny, unless they are some or other sort of public figure.

What people do in the privacy of the bedroom is none of our business. Is it that the result of his peccadillo is a child born out of wedlock? Clearly not, since there is a cultural mechanism that allows him to make good, which according to news reports, he has undertaken to do. It is safe to assume I am sure, that Thandekile will want for nothing.

Is it because he’s the President? Well, yes and no.

No, because a number of other heads of state have done much the same thing in the past: John F Kennedy was a notorious philanderer, the sultry breathless Maryly Monroe singing “Happy Birthday Mr President” springing immediately to mind; Italian president Silvio Berlusconi had a long standing affair, and three children with Veronica Lario, one of which was born while he was till married to his wife Carla; US president Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky engaged – according to Lewinsky’s own testimony – in some hanky-panky with a cigar that had the world agog, and resulted in a 21-day Senate trial in which Bill managed to avoid impeachment by a gnat’s whisker. In one respect, Msholozi’s in venerable company.

Yes, because it is about the exercising of judgment. Our President transgressed in 2006 and apologised, and the nation forgave him, but he has transgressed once more. What does that say about his ability to exercise judgment, when he contemplates the weighty issues that confront our country during the rest of this (and, depressingly, very likely another) term of office?

And does the apology such as it is, make a difference? The facile waffling of Prince Julius Malema aside, that “we cannot question the actions of our elders”, I’d wager that the public in general is a lot less forgiving this time around than the last.Not even close, Mr President, and definitely no cigar.

Written by Norman McFarlane You are reading The President, the cigar and the soccer boss’ daughter articles

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