Zille tells president to stop hiding behind culture

DA leader Helen Zille has launched yet another vitriolic attack on President Jacob Zuma, saying his sexual escapades had done worse damage to South Africa's efforts to fight the spread of HIV-Aids than former leader Thabo Mbeki's denials.

Zille said the recent birth of Zuma's 20th child, despite the president taking two wives within 12 months, would make the youth think it was correct to have multiple sex partners.

"The truth is that Zuma has set us back at least a decade in the fight against HIV-Aids. His actions will have a far more negative impact than even the Aids denialism of Thabo Mbeki. Getting bogged down in esoteric theories and quack science would have had far less impact on people's behaviour than a leader who by his own example justifies unprotected sex.

"The inevitable response of millions of young men will be: If the president can do it, so can I. This attitude undermines the entire edifice of the government's HIV-Aids programme. It will destroy many lives and cost the taxpayers millions in treating people who contract HIV-Aids as a result."

Writing in her weekly online newsletter, Zille said: "Zuma believes he is above the law and social norms. Firstly, Zuma does not consider himself bound by the norms of safe sex that he exhorts his fellow citizens to follow."

Zille said Zuma's promiscuity suggests the president does not practise what he preaches.

"Quite clearly there is one norm for Jacob Zuma and another for everybody else.

"Secondly, the birth of his little girl neatly illustrates his abuse of power as a husband. This baby was conceived between two marriages. No culture, polygamous or otherwise, justifies cheating."

The DA leader accused Zuma of hiding behind culture to avoid public criticism of his indiscretions.

"We cannot allow appeals to culture, especially when they are self-servingly distorted, to stop legitimate criticism of an elected leader who is accountable for his actions."

Zille rejected Zuma's defence that the love affair was "intensely private".