Politi­cians and sex scan­dals

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - LUNGANI ZUNGU,

DENY. Apol­o­gise. Get pro­moted! That seems to be the trend when politi­cians are caught with their pants down in sex scan­dals in South Africa. Last week, Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, who is vy­ing for the po­si­tion of pres­i­dent of the ANC and the coun­try, was the lat­est high-pro­file politi­cian to have his sex life thrust into the spot­light. It was re­ported last week that Ramaphosa was al­legedly linked to eight women in ap­par­ent ex­tra-mar­i­tal af­fairs. Some al­legedly ex­changed erotic pic­tures and videos. Ramaphosa, it was al­leged, also fi­nances the life­styles of some of them. But will th­ese sex­ual rev­e­la­tions dent or boost the deputy pres­i­dent’s elec­tion cam­paign? His­tory shows he would not be the first to take up a po­si­tion of lead­er­ship in a po­lit­i­cal party or as part of gov­ern­ment, with the ANC, DA and IFP all hav­ing pro­moted politi­cians de­spite their sex scan­dals. Ramaphosa has ad­mit­ted to just one af­fair which he said hap­pened about a decade ago. He has not yet apol­o­gised. Here is a re­minder of how pre­vi­ous politi­cians’ “sex­ca­pades” did noth­ing to harm their am­bi­tions.


In 2005 Zuma, then deputy pres­i­dent of the party and the coun­try, was fac­ing a rape charge from “Kh­wezi”, who died this year. Her real name, Fezek­ile Nt­sukela Kuzwayo, which was re­vealed after her death. But in 2006 Judge Willem van der Merwe, of the Jo­han­nes­burg High Court, found that Zuma and Kh­wezi had con­sen­sual sex. He was ac­quit­ted of rape. Many at the time thought it was the end of Zuma’s po­lit­i­cal ca­reer. In­stead, he was elected ANC pres­i­dent in 2007, un­seat­ing Thabo Mbeki. SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary Blade Nz­i­mande, for­mer Cosatu gen­eral sec­re­tary Zwelinz­ima Vavi and then-ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kgalema Mot­lanthe, all backed Zuma at that time but have since be­come his crit­ics. Zuma never de­nied hav­ing sex­ual re­la­tions with Kh­wezi and ad­mit­ted tak­ing a shower after hav­ing sex with her with­out a con­dom, de­spite know­ing her sta­tus. He apol­o­gised in 2006, and got pro­moted to Num­ber One. Then, in 2010 Zuma, a proud po­lyg­a­mist with three wives at the time, was found to have cheated and fa­thered a child with soc­cer boss Irvin Khoza’s daugh­ter, Sonono. He later apol­o­gised to the ANC, the tri­par­tite al­liance and South Africans.


A year after Malusi Gigaba tied the knot with wife Noma in 2014, his al­leged mistress, fash­ion­ista Buhle Mkhize, blew the lid on their al­leged af­fair. Many grabbed their pens to write Gigaba’s po­lit­i­cal obit­u­ary. He sur­vived. From be­ing Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, he was ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Fi­nance. Noma and Buhle have over the years traded in­sults on so­cial me­dia and dragged in the min­is­ter’s name. This did not shake Gigaba and his wife, at least not on so­cial me­dia, where they con­tinue to share pic­tures to­gether. Gigaba has de­nied the af­fair and though he has never apol­o­gised, he holds the most im­por­tant port­fo­lio in cabi­net.


“I apol­o­gise to South African so­ci­ety, the ANC and the South African gov­ern­ment.” This was then Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula’s re­ac­tion after his af­fair with Joyce Mo­lamu from North West was ex­posed.

It was re­ported at the time that Mbalula, a mar­ried fa­ther of two, had sex with Mo­lamu after a func­tion in Houghton in Jo­han­nes­burg in 2011. Ini­tially he de­nied the al­le­ga­tions. He even­tu­ally ad­mit­ted he had sex with the woman and apol­o­gised. Mbalula got his “pro­mo­tion” to the Po­lice Min­istry this year when Zuma reshuf­fled his cabi­net. He had been at the Sports Min­istry for seven years.


Narend Singh was forced to re­sign as KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Arts, Cul­ture and Tourism after a DVD show­ing him and a Dur­ban woman hav­ing sex sur­faced in 2006.

He ini­tially de­nied it, say­ing: “It could be my face put on any­one else’s body”.

Soon after, he apol­o­gised to his fam­ily and his party and re­signed. Like Ramaphosa, he de­scribed the scan­dal as a “smear cam­paign”.

When the scan­dal blew over, few en­vis­aged his stun­ning po­lit­i­cal come­back. Singh got pro­moted and be­came the chief whip of the IFP in Par­lia­ment in 2014.


An­other chief whip in Par­lia­ment, John Steenhuisen of the DA, was caught in an af­fair in 2010.

Steenhuisen, who was the DA leader in KZN and leader for the DA in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, re­signed when al­le­ga­tions sur­faced that he had an af­fair with for­mer party spokesper­son Terry Kass-Beau­mont.

Both Steenhuisen and Terry, who are now mar­ried, were mar­ried to other peo­ple at the time.

Steenhuisen did not deny the al­le­ga­tions. He re­signed and was swiftly moved to Par­lia­ment – a pro­mo­tion – be­fore he was pro­moted again in 2014, ap­pointed chief whip of the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.


Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe was a laugh­ing stock on so­cial me­dia after he asked a 29-year-old pho­tog­ra­pher at his of­fice to send him pic­tures of her pri­vate parts.

He wrote: “C.l.i.t is re­quested”. The raunchy texts were ex­posed and pub­lished in the press. Radebe swiftly apol­o­gised. When he of­fi­cially threw his hat in the ring in the ANC suc­ces­sion race, some quipped “v.o.t.e.s re­quested”.

A po­si­tion in the top six would be a pro­mo­tion for him.

He is cur­rently a mem­ber of the ANC’s NEC, the high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body.

Among the com­rades he is rac­ing against for the top job are the for­mer chair­per­son of the AU com­mis­sion, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Baleka Mbete, Lindiwe Sisulu, Mathews Phosa and Ramaphosa.

Jeff Radebe

Fik­ile Mbalula

Narend Singh

Malusi Gigaba

John Steenhuisen

Ja­cob Zuma

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