A three-way tie for first lady at Zuma’s inauguration: Report

May 7th, 2009 - 5:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, May 7 (DPA) After months of speculation over who will be South Africa’s next first lady, local media reported Thursday that president-elect Jacob Zuma, a polygamist, will be accompanied by both his wives and a third female companion at his inauguration Saturday.
The Star newspaper reported that Zuma, 67, had invited his first wife Sizakele, 69, his second wife, Nompumelelo, who is in her mid-30s, and a third woman, Thobeka Mabhija, for whom he has reportedly paid lobola (bride price) to the lavish ceremony in Pretoria.

Zuma’s children, who are believed to number over 20, will also join thousands of guests at the inauguration, which the ruling African National Congress has predicted will cost 75 million rand ($8.9 million).

Polygamy is still common in rural parts of KwaZulu-Natal province, from which Zuma, a Zulu, hails. The populist leader speaks openly about the practice, saying he sees nothing wrong with it and that he loves his wives.

It is not clear which companion will accompany him on state visits, leading to speculation he may vary it.

Several African heads of state and scores of other representatives of foreign governments and dignitaries will witness Zuma being sworn in as South Africa’s fourth post-apartheid president, three days after he was elected president in parliament.

ANC leader Zuma’s election was a foregone conclusion after the party won a fourth five-year term in the April 22 general elections.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been invited to the inauguration but the South African government has hinted it would rather he stayed away. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Sudanese province of Darfur.

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