South African President Jacob Zuma hints at 5th wife

South African President Jacob Zuma prepares to deliver a speech during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Year of South Africa in China cultural exchange programme at the Tianqiao Theater in Beijing on Dec 5, 2014. South Africa's President Jacob Z
South African President Jacob Zuma prepares to deliver a speech during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Year of South Africa in China cultural exchange programme at the Tianqiao Theater in Beijing on Dec 5, 2014. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has hinted he may be ready to take a fifth wife to accompany him through old age, the daily newspaper The Star said Wednesday. -- PHOTO: AFP

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has hinted he may be ready to take a fifth wife to accompany him through old age, the daily newspaper The Star said Wednesday.

During a visit to a Durban township Tuesday in KwaZulu-Natal, the 72-year-old said in Zulu "Angakayakhi indlu yokugugela... laba ngisabathathile nje" (I do have wives but I'm yet to marry my last one).

The crowd, most of them elderly, laughed and cheered, The Star said.

Zuma, who on Sunday said he was in "perfect condition" after a stay in hospital in June, had earlier given a speech about the need to respect and tend for older people.

Sihawu Ngubane, a professor at KwaZulu-Natal University, was quoted by the newspaper as saying it was fairly standard among Zulu people for a man who practises polygamy to take a last wife for his last years, sometimes the younger sister of one of his wives.

"They call the last wife 'indlu yokugugela' (the home in which I will age in) because the responsibility of looking after the husband in their old age predominantly lies with the junior wife, who is often younger than the other wives and more agile in case there is an emergency," he said.

Zuma, who has around 20 children, has married six times but currently has four wives on the state's budget, despite criticism from some tax-payers.