Hoping it's Zuma's last
AS A NATION, we have accepted that President Jacob Zuma is a polygamist.
Our Constitution allows for all citizens to practise their cultural beliefs, which include those that allow for men to have as many wives as they possibly can.
This coming weekend, Zuma will marry for the second time since becoming president of the country. Bongi Ngema will become his fourth wife.
While Zuma is entitled to marry at any given time and as many times as he wants, it is justifiable to comment about the signals that his elastic family could send to the public.
His conduct could give the impression he is a man whose interests are more in pleasure than on matters that affect the nation he governs.
The government's comprehensive HIV and Aids campaign, which Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe head, preaches the need for couples to be faithful to one another. It acknowledges that South Africa is ranked among the highest in the world in HIV infections, largely attributed to multiple relationships.
While Zuma's polygamous stance dates back prior to the discovery of HIV, some of the relationships he has had, including those that led to the birth of children out of wedlock, happen when the government's anti-HIV campaign is in full swing.
He may be sending a message that we, as a nation, should follow what he says, not what he does. Hardly exemplary. But the bigger problem with his marriages is that taxpayers have to finance some of their expenses.
This includes the appointment of support staff such as secretaries, and the payment of transport and related costs to enable the First Ladies to enjoy the privileges that come with having a president as husband.
Given the area where he comes from, Zuma does not see anything wrong with having more than one wife. His defenders are always quick to advance solid arguments on his behalf.
At 70 he has about 20 children, including a less than two-year-old. With his busy schedules, where he is expected to represent a complex emerging economy like South Africa, it boggles the national psyche how he manages to give his children the attention they deserve.
Zuma's announcement that next week's marriage is his last should be welcomed.
We hope it is indeed the last, so that he could spend the final two years of his term focusing on improving governance and service delivery.