A Zulu idiom used by President Jacob Zuma at an event for senior citizens was misunderstood, the South African Presidency said on Wednesday.
“Speaking at a wonderful Christmas party for older persons in Savannah Park, Durban, the president joked that he did not have “indlu yokugugela”, which the journalist reported as a hint about taking another wife,” spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that such misrepresentation clouded the reporting of an otherwise beautiful occasion in which senior citizens were honoured and feted.”
Zuma has four wives.
The Star reported that Zuma used a Zulu idiom to hint he might marry again.
“Angakayakhi indlu yokugugela… laba ngisabathathile nje,” Zuma was quoted as saying by the publication.
The statement was loosely translated by the newspaper as meaning “I do have wives but I am yet to marry my last one.”
Zulu cultural expert Professor Sihawu Ngubane, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, told the newspaper that when a man said he had not found “indlu yokugugela”, he meant he was going to marry another wife with whom he would grow old.
“They call the last wife ‘indlu yokugugela’ [the home in which I will age in] because the responsibility of looking after a husband in their old age predominantly lies with the junior wife,” Ngubane was quoted as saying by the newspaper.