President's behaviour undermines struggle against HIV/AIDS
President Jacob Zuma's behaviour directly contradicts the government's campaign against multiple sexual partners, and the inherent AIDS risk in having unprotected sex (see report).
There is currently a major national advertising campaign, the OneLove Campaign, on radio, television and print, promoting safe sex, the use of condoms, and attitudes that diminish the chance of having unprotected sex with multiple partners. That is the clear and unequivocal message that the government is trying to convey to the South African electorate.
It sits in stark contrast to the behaviour, and it would appear attitude, of the South African president.
One of the key contributing factors to the extent of South Africa's HIV/AIDS pandemic was the approach adopted by former President Thabo Mbeki, who through his words, did great damage to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the attitudes of the South African people towards it. South Africa now has a president who, both through his words and actions, is doing similar damage to that struggle - a life and death struggle for millions of South Africans.
There are some people who may argue that Jacob Zuma's sex life is a matter of private morality or "culture", but this is not so. His personal behaviour has profound public consequences - and he acknowledged as much by apologising to the nation for having unprotected sex, following his rape trial, and by undertaking to change his ways. He said at the time:
"I wish to state categorically and place on record that I erred in having unprotected sex. I should have known better and I should have acted with greater caution and responsibility."
It is quite clear, however, that even if the President did acknowledge his mistake in having unprotected sex, then that acknowledgment has faded from his memory, and he has once again succeeded in sending the wrong message to the South African people.
Statement issued by Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, January 31 2010
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