Speaking for the first time about his “love child“, President Zuma accused the media of invading his and the mother and child’s privacy, and “exploiting” the child for finanancial gain. I will concede one point to the president: the news media were careless in identifying the mother of the child, and thus, by implication, the child (who is entirely innocent in this matter). But, as I have pointed out previously, Zuma’s argument that his private life is his own business does not hold water. And his accusation that the news media are exploiting the child is, quite frankly, absurd.
Privacy rights “cannot be waived just because of the position one occupies”, Zuma said in his statement. He is wrong. Our law is very clear that privacy rights can be waived if there is an overriding public interest in disclosure, and that public figures – especially politicians – have a diminished right to privacy. If the president – already married to four wives – has a child born out of wedlock, it has financial implications for the state, and it contradicts his public statements about the importance of having safe sex. It also says a lot about his attitude to women (more about this later). Those issues make his sex life a matter of public interest, whether he likes it or not.