Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Davos 2010: South Africa's Zuma defends polygamy

Jacob Zuma standing with his three wives
Jacob Zuma took a third wife earlier this month

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has defended polygamy during a question and answer session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mr Zuma, who married his third wife earlier this month, said it was part of his Zulu culture and did not detract from his belief in women's equality.

Asked if he loved all his wives equally, he replied: "Absolutely".

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.

Newsweek International's editor Fareed Zakaria was chairing the session on South Africa with Mr Zuma at Davos.

Thobeka Mabhija - married, January 2010
Nompumelelo Ntuli - married, January 2008
Sizakele Khumalo - married, 1973
Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - divorced, 1998
Kate Mantsho Zuma - died, 2000

"There are many people who say that symbolically this is a great step backward for the leader of South Africa to be embracing a practice that they say is inherently unfair to women," he said.

But Mr Zuma dismissed the criticism.

"That's my culture. It does not take anything from me, from my political beliefs, including the belief in the equality of women," AFP news agency quoted the president as saying.

"Some think that their culture is superior to others, that's a problem we have in the world."

His answer on equality drew laughter from the audience, AP news agency reported.

"There are many people in this audience who find it a challenge to be married to one person," Mr Zakaria quipped.

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Reuters UK DAVOS-S.Africa's Zuma says cbank mandate needs debate - 7 hrs ago JZ loves wives 'equally' - 8 hrs ago
Cape TimesIt's my culture, Zuma says of his three wives - 11 hrs ago
Business Day SA to increase infrastructure spending, Zuma tells forum - 12 hrs ago
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