President Zuma wants every woman in South Africa to procreate in spite of the fact that the AIDS epidemic has made millions of children orphans

By Nina Steele 

Jacob ZumaSouth Africa has a population of around 55 million people and of those, around 7 million are living with HIV. The country is considered to have the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world. Not only is AIDS a major public health issue, it is also the main cause behind the estimated 3.7 million orphans in the country. With all that in mind, you would think that everyone in authority would make fighting the disease their priority. Instead, what we get from the country’s leader, is the usual pro natalist propaganda.

It is worth pointing out that President Zuma made the comments in 2012. I just happen to stumble on it, and since as a staunch traditionalist, his views on women are unlikely to have changed, I thought it worth writing about.

Knowing what I know about President Zuma, I wasn’t at all surprised. After all, he is a polygamist, who is believed to have fathered as much as 22 children. His views on women are described as being “often at odds with South Africa’s progressive Constitution—and with more liberal South Africans”. Also, he seems to have a laissez-faire attitude to AIDS, which is completely at odds with the havoc the disease is wrecking on the country. The rape allegations that were made against him in 2005, and for which he was later acquitted, is a case in point. During the trial, we learned that he had unprotected sex with his accuser, even though he knew that she was HIV positive. He defended his actions by proclaiming that he took a shower after they had sex to minimise his chances of contracting the disease. Unbelievable!

Thankfully, not everyone in his party share his views. After he made his remarks, some were quick to point out that “the ANC has a good history on issues related to gender but Zuma does not seem to be in sync”. Also, others in the party are keen to highlight that progress is being made in fighting the disease. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is tipped as a possible successor to Zuma, said recently: “we have invested massively in life saving antiretroviral drugs, making our HIV treatment program the biggest in the world”. He also recognised that the rate of infection was often highest among young women and girls. Of this he said: “more than 2,300 girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 become infected with HIV each week”. Which proves once more how wrong President Zuma was to encourage every woman to procreate.

Jacob Zuma

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