South African president Jacob Zuma and his 3 wives

*In Johannesburg, South Africa’s polygamist president, Jacob Zuma, has apologized to the nation after being criticized for having an extramarital affair that resulted in a daughter born in October. Zuma has three wives.

Analysts had argued that the love child revelations would have little impact because South African voters overwhelmingly supported Zuma in last year’s election even though he was an unabashed polygamist who had admitted to having sex outside marriage.

But Zuma has had to make two public statements on the matter, a sign he and his advisers may be worried that South Africans will hold him to higher standards now that he is president.

“The matter, though private, has been a subject of much public discussion and debate,” Zuma said in the latest statement, issued Saturday. “It has put a lot of pressure on my family and my organization, the African National Congress. I also acknowledge and understand the reaction of many South Africans. I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC, … and South Africans in general.”

Earlier we reported:

Frisky South African President’s Love Child Creates Controversy

*Confirmation that President Jacob Zuma, who has three wives and a fiancee, has fathered a child with yet another woman has prompted jokes in South Africa’s media but has also hit a nerve in a country hardest hit by the virus that causes AIDS.

For a president whose political career survived a rape trial, Zuma is expected to emerge relatively unscathed from the disclosure that he is the father of a baby girl born in October.

Even so, the political opposition says he is a poor role model in a country where an estimated 5.7 million of South Africa’s 50 million people are infected with HIV, more than any other country. And even ordinary South Africans are left wondering.

“All these AIDS campaigns tell us that to have one partner but our president has five,” said Phemelo Mmitsinyane, an 18-year-old University of Johannesburg student.

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