Clerics lash Zuma, now Lekota unmasked

newspic4b767778e2c34 Star In the spotlight: COPE leader Mosiuoa Leko has fathered at least one child of his own outside of his marriage. Photo: Ian Landsberg, Weekend Argus

By Staff Reporters and Political Bureau

Leaders of South Africa's two biggest Christian denominations have launched an unprecedented attack on President Jacob Zuma and his fitness for office.

On Friday, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, the senior Catholic priest in South Africa, lashed the president, hours after his State of the Nation address, for not showing remorse for his adultery with Irvin Khoza's divorced daughter Sonono.

Napier and his bishops railed against the "scandalous behaviour of leaders who shamelessly flout the norms of morality and decency, accepted and expected by the vast majority of people. In particular we deplore the attempts to excuse or even defend bad moral behaviour in the name of 'culture'."

He was joined by the country's Anglicans, who said Zuma's affair had left parishioners unsure about who to look up to for political leadership.

But as rumours gathered momentum about the scandal having cost Zuma the ANC and tripartite alliance's backing for a second term as president, key members in the ANC's national executive committee said nothing could be further from the truth.

"Zuma is the glue that is holding the party and the alliance together. Without him it all collapses. Why do you think the deal (to disclose his wives, lovers and children, as revealed in last week's Saturday Star) was struck with him in Polokwane?" the sources asked.

And, after a week of drama and intense speculation which not only overshadowed Zuma's State of the Nation address on Thursday night but also saw him miss several key public functions and meetings, some of Zuma's greatest opponents now face their own scandals.

COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota - whose party refused to accept Zuma's public apology this week, and who was one of the first politicians to call for Zuma to quit - has fathered at least one child of his own outside of his marriage.

Lekota has a child of about five with ANC activist and former Cape Nature deputy chairwoman Yasmina Pandy.

Lekota slammed Zuma for being "a very poor role-model" and behaving irresponsibly in a country with a high prevalence of HIV and Aids by sleeping with a woman other than his wives without a condom.

Cope chief whip Mbhazima Shilowa, who has two illegitimate sons and had to be dragged to court to pay maintenance, said COPE intended bringing a motion of no confidence in Zuma in Parliament on Thursday.

Lekota and Shilowa are not the only two Cope leaders with illegitimate children.

Last year it emerged that COPE parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala had an unplanned child in his youth, before he got married - something he has readily admitted.

The Democratic Alliance hasn't emerged unscathed either.

Party leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has been outspoken in her condemnation of Zuma, but this week she was forced to grant Western Cape Community Safety MEC Lennit Max leave amid newspaper reports that he had had not one but two torrid affairs with members of his staff, as well as a fling with a third woman who had tried to blackmail him.

This week, a former police station clerk, Belinda Petersen, told a newspaper that Max, an advocate and former provincial police commissioner, had represented her in a disciplinary hearing in 2007, and had done so in exchange for sexual favours.

Max is currently on special leave with full pay, and Zille has taken over his portfolio.

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