Page last updated at 19:13 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

South Africa President Jacob Zuma marries third wife


Jacob Zuma performs a traditional Zulu dance at the ceremony

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has married his third wife, in a Zulu ceremony attended by his other wives.

Some 2,000 guests saw the 67-year-old marry Thobeka Mabhija, 36. The ceremony had been postponed from last year because of his political commitments.

Reports in South Africa suggest he already has another fiancee and his fourth wife may not be far off.

Correspondents say Mr Zuma's belief in the traditional practice of polygamy has divided South Africans.

Some support him but many younger people believe it should have no place in a modern society.

Under Zulu tradition, Mr Zuma's two current wives had to approve the wedding and attend the ceremony.

His new fiancee, Gloria Bongi Ngema, took umbondo (wedding gifts) to the Zuma family last week, reports say.

This ceremony is the last traditional event before a wedding and is done after ilobolo (dowry) has been paid to the bride's family.

Hive of activity

Monday's ceremony is Mr Zuma's fifth wedding - he married his first wife Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma in 1973 and Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma two years ago.

Thobeka Mabhija at her wedding, 04/10
Thobeka Mabhija - married, January 2010 (above)
Nompumelelo Ntuli - married, January 2008
Sizakele Khumalo - married, 1973
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - divorced, 1998
Kate Mantsho Zuma - died, 2000

He is also divorced from Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

South African media reported that Mr Zuma's home in Nkandla, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, was a hive of activity in the run-up to the ceremony.

Large tents were erected to accommodate guests, some of whom arrived in a number of buses on Monday.

Several cows, sheep and goats were slaughtered for the wedding feast.

Locals including Mr Zuma were dressed in traditional Zulu attire - mostly made from animal skin.

When Mr Zuma was inaugurated as president in May, speculation was rife about who would be the first lady.

He has attended some high-profile events with all his wives, including Ms Mabhija.

Mr Zuma, who has 19 children - three with Ms Mabhija - paid ilobolo to the Mabhija family two years ago.

One of his earlier wives, Kate Mantsho-Zuma, died in 2000.

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