South Africa Asks: Who Will Be First Lady?

Zuma has two wives and a fiancée, but only one can have the title
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2009 7:19 AM CDT
South Africa Asks: Who Will Be First Lady?
This Jan. 5, 2008 file photo shows Jacob Zuma, left, with his 33 year-old wife Nompumelelo Ntuli, right, dancing during their Zulu traditional wedding in Nkandla, South Africa.    (AP Photo/File)

In a few days Jacob Zuma will become president of South Africa—but who will become the country's first lady is less certain. The African National Congress leader, who has two wives and a fiancée, will be the first avowed polygamist to serve as the country's head of state. Yet as the Wall Street Journal reports, protocol means that only one wife can be first lady and get the perks that come with the office.

The first Mrs. Zuma, whom he married in 1975, lives in the countryside far from the capital city of Pretoria, but thinks she's a shoo-in for the slot—after all, her hut is bigger than that of wife No. 2, who is 30 years his junior. But then there's also the thirtysomething socialite to whom he recently paid a bride-price. Some social advocates are enraged that a polygamist will be president, but Zuma's first wife defends the practice: "If he's able to treat us equally, then it's not hard." (More Jacob Zuma stories.)

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