The young girl being kissed by President Jacob Zuma in pictures that caused a stir on social media on Thursday reportedly took to social media to deny an improper relationship, calling him a friend and inspiration.
The 17-year-old confirmed that the picture had been subverted and posted on a Facebook page under a false name. The page, which has been taken down after causing a minor political storm, claimed that Zuma was her “blesser”, suggesting they had a sexual relationship.
The teenager in her own post, a digital media outlet reported, said that she considered Zuma her second father and was angry at the abuse of the pictures, which showed her and the president exchanging a kiss on the cheek.
Earlier, sources close to the presidency confirmed that the girl and her family were close friends of Zuma but said his office was ignoring the matter in the hope that it would go away and the teenager would be spared further distress.
Zuma’s son Edward, however, went on record to say he considered the girl his “sister” and that there was nothing untoward about the president kissing her.
But like the official silence from the presidency, his remarks failed to stop further speculation. Instead they were interpreted literally and several media outlets reported that the teenager was Zuma’s biological daughter, before she clarified the relationship.
Three weeks ahead of local government elections, the Economic Freedom Fighters sought to make political mint out of the pictures.
EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu tweeted that Zuma was a pervert: “I see most of the brainless followers of Zupta are offended by the description. He is [a pervert]. You gotta leave (sic) with it.”
– African News Agency (ANA)