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Zuma's love child scandalizes South Africa

With three wives and a fiancee, South Africa's president apologizes for illegitimate child.

The opposition Democratic Alliance party welcomed Zuma’s apology, but said “he must now focus on repairing the damage he has done to the fight against HIV/AIDS.” South Africa has the highest number of HIV infections in the world, and a government campaign promotes the message of ABC — Abstain, Be faithful, and Condomize.

“It is worth recalling that Jacob Zuma has apologized in exactly these terms before,” DA leader Helen Zille noted, referring to Zuma’s apology after his 2006 rape trial, during which he said he took a shower after having sex with a friend’s daughter who was HIV-positive. After the trial, Zuma said: “I wish to state categorically and place on record that I erred in having unprotected sex.”

Even members of his African National Congress party are getting fed up with Zuma’s love life, with unnamed senior officials questioning his bid for a second term as head of state.

The Star, Johannesburg's largest daily newspaper, reported that ANC elders had warned him three years ago about embarrassing the party with his sexual indiscretions. The ANC Youth League, a bastion of support, refrained from directly criticizing Zuma but reiterated its safe sex message of “one boyfriend, one girlfriend.”

The Congress of the People, a party created in 2008 by former ANC members, called for Zuma to resign.

Observers are wondering how Zuma will handle his State of the Nation address, with the “love-child” scandal drawing attention from his planned discussion of job creation, health care and education. In his speech he is also expected to “celebrate national unity and reconciliation,” according to the office of the presidency.

In addition to the love-child scandal, Zuma is dealing with infighting between the ANC and political alliance members over issues such as the nationalization of the country’s mines.

After the scandal broke, Zuma took an unscheduled two days off to rest, citing a busy schedule. He had just returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos and the African Union summit meeting in Addis Ababa. But the rest period sparked off more of the Zuma jokes that have been making the rounds in South Africa.

“Zuma taking two days off his hectic schedule. Mothers, lock up your daughters!” wrote one South African on Twitter.