If Zuma dislikes public scrutiny, he should resign - Zille

DA leader says president's philandering is not a personal and private issue

If the President doesn't like public scrutiny, he can resign

Today, the ANC again attempted to squash criticism of President Jacob Zuma's admission that he had extra-marital, unprotected sex, insisting that it is "very personal and private" (see statement).

This is nonsense. When public representatives do things that have public consequences, they must be subject to public scrutiny. It is called accountability. It is the essence of democracy.

As the elected President of our Republic, Jacob Zuma needs to accept that his behaviour will be held up for public scrutiny. If he doesn't like this, he is free to resign.

It may be justifiable for someone like Tiger Woods to insist that his extra-marital activity is private. What he did has a bearing on nobody but his family and those close to him.

Elected leaders, on the other hand, must be held to a higher standard. If their actions contradict their stated public positions (not to mention their government's policies) they must answer for that. And they must lead by example. If they do not, the public have every right to criticise and hold them accountable.

Jacob Zuma, by his deeds, has contradicted everything he said in his World Aids Day speech just three months ago. By doing what he did, he condoned risky sexual behaviour - the very thing he exhorted South Africans not to engage in if we are to stop the spread of HIV/Aids.

This will do inestimable damage to the fight against HIV/Aids. When all is said and done, it is unprotected sex that spreads HIV. Unless South Africans change their sexual behaviour, we will never beat the pandemic. If political leaders do not set the standard, there is little chance that other people will follow.

Jacob Zuma and the ANC must face this reality. They must understand that they are held to a higher, not lower, standard than everybody else.

Statement issued by Helen Zille, lead of the Democratic Alliance, February 5 2010

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