Polygamous president of South Africa to gain third current wife in private family wedding in KwaZulu-Natal

Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, is to gain his third first lady in a traditional Zulu wedding on Monday.

Mr. Zuma, 67, will marry Tobeka Madiba in a private family ceremony at his homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal province, the president's office confirmed.

Ms. Madiba, 36, will be Mr. Zuma's third current wife and his fifth marriage overall. He is also reported to be engaged to another woman.

The Zulu tribe, the biggest ethnic group in South Africa, practises polygamy by tradition. Mr. uma once told an interviewer: "There are plenty of politicians who have mistresses and children that they hide so as to pretend they're monogamous. I prefer to be open. I love my wives and I'm proud of my children."

The wedding is scheduled to start at 6am local time and several goats and sheep have already been slaughtered for the feast, South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Mr. Zuma is expected to vow to love and protect Madiba, with whom he has three children, in a Zulu ceremony known as udwendwe.

She will become South Africa's third first lady, joining Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma, whom Mr. Zuma has known for 50 years and married in 1973, and Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, whom he married two years ago.

There were two further Mrs Zumas who are no longer with him. He divorced Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, now home affairs minister, in 1998. Kate Mantsho Zuma committed suicide in 2000, leaving a note describing her marriage to him as "24 years of hell". Mr. Zuma is said to have more than 10 children, and possibly as many as 19.

Mr. Zuma has paid lobolo to the family of Ms. Madiba, described as a socialite from Durban, as custom demands. She has attended numerous official events with the president but it appears the wedding has been postponed until now because of Mr. Zuma's work commitments. He was elected president in April.

South African law recognises multiple marriages, although fewer young South Africans are entering into them because they are seen as expensive and old-fashioned. The cultural practices of Zulus and other groups are protected by the constitution but can provoke controversy. © Guardian News & Media 2010

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