By Gaye Davis, Carien Du Plessis and Xolani Mbanjwa
President Jacob Zuma has plunged the ruling ANC into a public relations crisis as his reported adulterous, unprotected sex with the daughter of soccer boss Irvin Khoza and the baby who bears his name continue to make headlines at home and abroad.
South Africans are speaking out about the news that Jacob Zuma has fathered his 20th child.
Attempts by the ANC and the Presidency to sweep the question of Zuma's love child with Sonono Khoza, 39, under the carpet, by insisting that this was a private matter, saw a turnaround yesterday when the party and Zuma's spokesman relented to media queries.
But their efforts to shut down the debate and speculation by insisting that Zuma had done no wrong and that both he and Sonono Khoza were consenting adults, failed to stem the flood of comment and debate that set alight local radio talk shows, Internet and newspaper forums.
News of the love child claims also led TV bulletins around the world.
The revelation has put Zuma's National Interfaith Leadership Council into a corner. Council spokeswoman Pastor Nthabiseng Khunou said that "as pastors, we are not there to judge anyone", and that it was a "private matter".
Presidency spokesman Vincent Magwenya insisted that the constitution's promise that "everyone shall have a right to privacy" included the president, but commentators and political parties begged to differ.
Opposition politicians condemned what they saw as hypocrisy on the part of Zuma, who only months ago was lauded for breaking with the Aids denialism of the past administration when he announced a broader, more open approach to combating HIV and Aids.
Today, UCT constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos challenged his right to privacy on the matter.
Zuma marked World Aids Day on December 1 by saying that expanded access to treatment for people living with HIV and Aids would help people live longer.
"But that does not mean that we should be irresponsible in our sexual practices," Zuma told the nation.
"It does not mean that people do not have to practice safer sex. It does not mean that people should not use condoms consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter."
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said he "did not see" any link between "policies on HIV and Aids and the president's personal relationships" - a response to DA leader Helen Zille, who said Zuma's sexual conduct was undermining the fight against Aids, where the emphasis was changing people's behaviour and encouraging safe sex.
ID leader Patricia de Lille said Zuma was asking people "to do as I say and not as I do".
The ACDP's Reverend Kenneth Meshoe suggested Zuma seek therapy for sex addiction.
COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota suggested Zuma was using African custom "as a smokescreen".
Mthembu said the fact that Zuma had paid "damages" to Khoza for the four-month-old infant showed he was responsible - tacitly confirming that Zuma had fathered the child.
De Vos said: "There is a core of privacy which needs to be protected, but it has different layers. The more private the action, and the less public consequences the action has, the more the right to privacy is protected." - Additional reporting by Murray Williams