The news this week that South Africa’s President, Jacob Zuma, who turns 68 this year, had become a father for the 20th time (the child was born last October) – not by one of his three wives, but with a mistress – is out of order. Of course his alliance partners will defend him for building the homestead.
Before I get accused of privileging monogamy; that I hate African “tradition” (represented by polygamy) that Zuma becoming a father again is a private matter, or what about the women who enter into relationships willingly with Zuma, the best takedown of all these whataboutisms comes from South African feminist academic, Pumla Gqola. Here.
Myth 5: It’s ‘unfair’ to focus on Zuma and leave the women who are his partners alone in public criticism.
When one of these women is an elected public official, she will be subjected to as much scrutiny from those of us who think that public responsibility matters. But so far, the women that Jacob Zuma has relationships are not elected officials – save for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who married and divorced Zuma. These other women are private citizens of interest and are therefore not obliged to act
Myth 6: Feminists ignore that women choose to enter into polygynous relationships.
… There is nothing automatically feminist about either monogamous or polygamous relationships. Women will choose relationships with differing degrees of choice given that we live in a patriarchal and therefore unequal world. Not all women are feminist. No oppressive system has ever succeeded without the complicity and active support of members of those classes/groups it seeks to oppress. This is part of why the personal is political.