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STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA ON MEDIA REPORTS ABOUT HIS CHILD
3 February 2010
I have noted recent media reports about aspects of my personal life.
I have noted too that these reports have been the subject of much discussion in the public arena by various organisations and people from all walks of life.
I have therefore decided, after some careful deliberation, to make public comment on a matter that is otherwise intensely personal. I had been out of the country when this matter arose.
I confirm that I have a relationship and a baby with Ms Sonono Khoza. I said during World Aids Day that we must all take personal responsibility for our actions. I have done so. I have done the necessary cultural imperatives in a situation of this nature, for example the formal acknowledgement of paternity and responsibility, including the payment of inhlawulo to the family. The matter is now between the two of us, and culturally, between the Zuma and Khoza families.
It is unfortunate that the individuals concerned have been unfairly subjected to harsh media exposure merely because of the position that I occupy. Our Constitution and our laws require us to protect children from harmful public exposure. The Constitution states that it is inappropriate to place at risk, the child's well-being, physical or mental health, spiritual, moral or social development.
Both the Child Care Act and the new Children's Act also provides for the protection of children from exploitation. The naming of the child's parents has essentially exposed her to the public, which has serious implications in the long-term for her, and amounts to the exploitation referred to in the Act, because the media is making money out of the matter.
The media is also in essence questioning the right of the child to exist and fundamentally, her right to life. It is unfortunate that the matter has been handled in this way. I sincerely hope that the media will protect the rights of children.
Much has been made of the government's policy on HIV and AIDS and this relationship. It is mischievous to argue that I have changed or undermined government's stance on the HIV and AIDS campaign. I will not compromise on the campaign. Rather we will intensify our efforts to promote prevention, treatment, research and the fight against the stigma, attached to the epidemic. We will also continue with our campaign to ensure that every South African knows their HIV status, and that all those who need it have access to appropriate treatment.
We respect and uphold the freedom of the media. It is one of the freedom we fought for, and which we will always defend. However, the President of the Republic, the mother and the baby are also entitled to the rights afforded to all South Africans in the Constitution. These rights cannot be waived just because of a position one occupies.
I would request that the dignity and privacy of the affected individuals in this matter be respected.