Is Zuma's sex life a private matter? Jacob Zuma has always been open about his practising of polygamy By Pumza Fihlani BBC News, Johannesburg South Africans have largely accepted President Jacob Zuma's polygamy - but revelations that he fathered a child out of wedlock have highlighted a gaping cultural divide. In battling South Africa's HIV/Aids epidemic, the government advocates regular condom use and faithfulness to one partner. It is un-African to discuss private matters publicly Moses Twala Kara Heritage Institute Mr Zuma has three wives. And now a four-month-old daughter with another woman - 39-year-old Sonono Khoza whose father is a senior football official. Opposition parties and newspapers, Aids activists and women's rights groups are up in arms - they accuse Mr Zuma of setting a bad example. But the government has denied suggestions that his actions contradict his government's policies on Aids. And the spotlight on Mr Zuma's sex life has once again opened the debate about his polygamy. Some have questioned whether it should still be allowed in a country where more than five million people live with HIV. 'Mischievous' Political commentator Adam Habib is among those who called for Mr Zuma to clarify his position. Xhosas are among the groups who practise polygamy "If Mr Zuma is convinced that there is no contradiction between his extramarital relationship and government's message on safe sex then he should explain this," Mr Habib says. But Mr Zuma has responded by saying he has acted responsibly by acknowledging the paternity of the child and paying damages known as inhlawulo to the family of the baby's mother. "It is mischievous to argue that I have changed or undermined government's stance on the HIV and Aids campaign," he said in a statement. Mr Habib says while a "significant group of citizens" do not have a problem with Mr Zuma's polygamy because he has been "transparent" about it, the gap between those "for it" and those "against it" seems to be widening. Zulus and Xhosas are among the groups were polygamy is practised, but it has largely become a rural phenomenon. Traditionalists in rural areas embrace polygamy as an important part of culture. Moses Twala, of the the Kara Heritage Institute, does not believe there should even be a debate about Mr Zuma's wives, or alleged mistress. "It is un-African to discuss private matters publicly. It makes me question what purpose this serves except to degrade someone," he says. "It is a normal for a man in our culture to be married but have children outside of his marriage, that has often been how other marriages have formed." 'Cultural intolerance' But many South Africans believe polygamy perpetuates inequality between men and women. Just because polygamy is part of some cultures doesn't mean it is good for society Security guard Golden Mushwana The debate is raging even among friends and colleagues on Johannesburg's streets. Security guard Golden Mushwana says the practice is outdated - asking why a man would ever need three wives. "Just because polygamy is part of some cultures doesn't mean it is good for society," he says. But his colleague Tebogo Motshabi disagrees. "We don't practise polygamy in [my] culture but if we were allowed to I would marry more than one wife, I don't think there is anything wrong with it if that's what you want," he says. Mr Zuma's supporters have always rebuffed criticism of his polygamy - and they have been less receptive to critics linking his sexual habits to Aids policies. To them, such criticism shows "cultural intolerance" or an attitude of "cultural superiority" against black people. During white minority rule, black cultural practices had no place in society - the government of the time viewed them as inferior. But black South Africans have for years defined themselves by their cultural values, beliefs and customs and it is important to many black people to retain that. Mr Zuma recently defended having "many wives" in Davos Cultural and ethnic leaders have been careful not to criticise Mr Zuma's lifestyle in public, lest they be accused of cultural intolerance. South Africa's constitution recognises the practice under customary law. And Mr Zuma has always been open about his embracing of Zulu cultural beliefs. He recently defended having "many wives" at the World Economic Summit in Davos, calling for people to be more accepting of his culture. "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 argue that this kind of openness is vital to the appeal he holds for many rural South Africans and traditionalists.