The presidency has issued a statement for journalists that seeks to clarify the confusion that South Africa's first polygamous head of state is causing, writes John Allen for


Responding to a rash of reports arising from Zuma's wedding last
week to his newest wife, Tobeka Madiba-Zuma, the presidency issued a
statement on Wednesday seeking, as it put it, to "clarify a few points":

• South Africa's Constitution and public service regulations make no formal provision for "a First Lady or First Ladies."

• President
Zuma will be accompanied to official or public engagements by any of
his current wives, "or all of them at the same time should he so
decide. This is his prerogative."

• Zuma has three
wives, not five, as "incorrect media reports" have stated. They are:
Sizakele Khumalo (referred to by Zulu and wider African custom as
MaKhumalo),  Nompumelelo Ntuli (MaNtuli) and Tobeka Madiba (KaMadiba).

• In addition, the president "has a fiancée, Ms. Bongi Ngema."

The reference to incorrect reports appears to relate to coverage
which numbers among Zuma's wives Kate Zuma, who died in 2000, and
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Home Affairs minister, to whom Zuma was
previously married.

And the reference to the status of a "First Lady" may have something
to do with a report in a national tabloid, The Times, claiming there is
"bickering between MaNtuli and Mabhija (sic) about who should become
first lady…"

The presidency also spelled out for the first time the nature of the work in which Zuma's wives are interested.

In a "note to subs" (sub-editors), the statement said: "In the isiZulu culture,
married or adult women whose surnames begin with 'Ma' automatically
inherit the prefix 'Ka' instead of 'Ma' to avoid tautology, which is
why Ms. Madiba-Zuma is not referred to as 'MaMadiba'."

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