Sunday, January 06, 2008

Jacob Zuma Marries Fourth Wife

Zuma marries fourth wife

African National Congress president Jacob Zuma married his fourth wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli of KwaMaphumulo, at his homestead at Nkandla in northern KwaZulu-Natal on yesterday.

Between 400 and 500 guests — mainly family —attended the ceremony, which lasted about three hours. KwaZulu-Natal businessman Erwin Ulbricht was spotted among the guests.

Ntuli is the mother of two of Zuma’s children.

The media were initially barred from the event. They were asked to leave by Zuma's son, Edward, whose mother is Minah Shongwe, the sister of Transvaal Deputy Judge President Jeremiah Shongwe. A Sunday Times reporter and photographer were, however, allowed in to cover the event.

Later, the media who had gathered outside were allowed in to witness a traditional Zulu dance on a field adjacent to Nkandla, which reportedly signified that Ntuli had been accepted into the Zuma family. Some of the guests were dressed in Zulu traditional attire, carrying shields and knobkerries, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Meanwhile, Zuma has denied allegations of corruption and vowed to fight charges laid against him in court, local media reported on Friday.

"I am innocent. I have not committed any crime. I will fight to the bitter end in the highest courts to prove that," Zuma was quoted as saying in Beeld.

Zuma, who won the ANC leadership in an election last month against incumbent Thabo Mbeki, has been charged with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering. He has said the accusations were part of a political campaign against him. The trial is set to start on August 4 and could overlap with national elections in 2009, adding to political uncertainty in Africa’s biggest economy. Reuters, Sapa.

ANC leader chooses fourth bride

Jacob Zuma, the newly elected leader of the African National Congress, took a fourth wife on Saturday in a low-key ceremony in his KwaZulu-Natal homeland.

Zuma, who is well placed to become his country's next president in 2009, married 33-year-old Nompumelelo Ntuli, the mother of two of his children, his personal assistant said.

The 65-year-old Zuma has previously married five times and is believed to have 14 children. Traditional Zulu culture allows him to take more than one wife.

Zuma and South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma divorced in 1998 and another wife committed suicide in 2000. His other three wives live in KwaZulu-Natal.

Journalists were initially barred from attending the wedding but were later allowed to cover a traditional Zulu dance that was part of the ceremony, the Sapa news agency said.

Zuma, who was elected president of the ruling ANC last month, beating President Thabo Mbeki, is facing charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, and will stand trial in August.

Prosecuting Zuma could derail his hopes of succeeding Mbeki, who must step down as national president in 2009.

Zuma was acquitted in a rape trial in 2006, when he justified having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman by saying he had taken a shower afterwards.

ANC members put Zuma case on their agenda

By Michael Georgy

The ruling African National Congress's top decision-making body will discuss corruption charges against party leader Jacob Zuma on Monday in an explosive case that could derail his hopes of becoming South Africa's president.

The African National Congress' National Executive Committee will review the issue at its first meeting since Zuma was elected party leader last month, said the ANC's spokesperson.

"I don't know how big or small an issue (it) is, but it is on the agenda," said Tiyani Rikhotso.

Zuma, who beat state President Thabo Mbeki in the ANC leadership race, faces charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, and will stand trial in August.

Prosecuting Zuma could further divide the ANC and hurt his chances of succeeding Mbeki, who must step down in 2009.

The prospect of Zuma going to prison, or the case overlapping with the 2009 general election, could put the ANC in an awkward position. There has been talk of the party seeking an alternative candidate to Zuma, who has said he would only step down if a court finds him guilty.

The ANC enjoys a massive electoral majority, leaving its candidate a shoo-in for the presidency. But the charges made against Zuma have created deep political uncertainty in Africa's biggest economy, raising concerns among investors.

Zuma has urged his supporters, angered by the corruption charges, to avoid the kind of violence that has exploded in Kenya. They say the charges are politically motivated in a relentless campaign by opponents designed to ruin him.

"We don't want to have the kind of thing we are seeing in Kenya," The Sunday Independent quoted him as saying on Friday after meeting with top ANC officials.

Kenya has been swept by tribal clashes since a December 27 election the opposition says was rigged. At least 300 people have died in the violence.

"On no account should there be any violence or burning of property, or anything like that, because of these charges against me," the newspaper quoted Zuma as saying.

"I know why people are so angry on my behalf. But there are other ways, legal ways, with which to deal with such matters."

The one-million-strong Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has refused to rule out mass protests following the decision by prosecutors ordering Zuma to stand trial.

Underscoring fears over political tensions, former Constitutional Court President Arthur Chaskalson, and prominent lawyer George Bizos, who defended Nelson Mandela in his apartheid-era treason trial, called on political leaders, commentators and the media to leave the case to the courts.

"Putting pressure on the courts by making serious allegations of partiality, uttering threats of massive demonstrations, and expressing opinions in intemperate language are harmful to the judicial process, to our constitutional democracy, and to our country's reputation," they said in a statement.

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