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South Africa's polygamous president marries fourth wife

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The happy couple: The South African polygamist president, 70, and his newest wife address guest at their wedding

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has wed his fourth wife in a traditional ceremony at his rural home, his office confirmed.

The polygamist premier, 70, married Gloria ‘Bongi’ Ngema in a customary service which started at around 6am yesterday.

The Zulu statesman’s nuptials leave Mr Zuma with four current wives and brings his total number of marriages to six.

South Africa’s office of the Presidency confirmed that the president’s three existing spouses were among the crowd as he tied the knot with Ms Ngema, a businesswoman with whom he has a seven-year-old son.

In a statement Mr Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj said: ‘President Jacob Zuma has today married Ms Bongi Ngema at a traditional ceremony known as umgcagco at his home in Nkandla.

‘The bride and groom later participated in the traditional competitive celebratory dance.

‘A wedding reception will be held this evening and tomorrow there will be the umabo, where the bride showers the groom’s family with gifts.’

He added: ‘The president’s three wives attended the event.’

Mr Zuma’s wedding is the latest in a string of marriages for the former freedom fighter, who was an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa’s African National Congress.

The president now leads the ruling party and is the country’s first polygamous premier.

South African President Jacob Zuma (C) dancing in traditional Zulu dress during the wedding to his new wife, Ms Bongi Ngema

He is permitted to take multiple wives under South Africa’s constitution, which was was drawn up following the end of apartheid and designed to protect the traditions of the country’s diverse tribes.

Mr Zuma’s latest nuptials follow a prolonged engagement to Ms Ngema, a devoutly religious business graduate who has worked for companies including IBM and Deloitte & Touche and has often been seen at her new husband’s side.

The couple’s marriage means she will now officially join the presidential household in his home village of Nkandla, where she will live alongside the statesman’s three other wives.

Mr Zuma, a former goatherd who spent a decade in prison under the apartheid regime, wed his long-standing first wife Sizakele Khumalo, 69, in 1973.

He married Nompumelelo Ntuli, 37, in 2008 and wed third current wife Thobeka Madiba, 39, in 2010.

The six-times married statesman has also had two aborted unions.

He divorced South African cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in 1999 and another wife, Kate Mantasho-Zuma, committed suicide in 2000. The president’s then trio of wives were all at his side as he was inaugurated in May 2009.

Four's a crowd: Mr Zuma poses with his three other wives (from left) Nompumelo Ntuli, Thobeka Mabhija and Sizakele Khumalo. All were at the wedding to his fourth current spouse

All four will now be treated as first ladies and will share Mr Zuma’s spousal duties between them.

Today the presidency said Ms Ngema had been part of the ‘office machinery’ even before the couple’s wedding.

Mr Maharaj added: ‘The new Mrs Zuma had already been part of the spousal machinery in terms of administrative support so there will be no changes due to the wedding.’

Last week South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that the president’s Nkandla home had been renovated under a multi-million-pound building project which saw the construction of six double-story thatched huts.

The publication claimed that each of the separate buildings was connected to Mr Zuma’s own house by an underground tunnel, allowing him easy access to his spouses.

The statesman will share the sprawling homestead property with his wives, who also travel between his official residences in Cape Town and the capital Pretoria.


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