Jacob Zuma, the renowned polygamous president of South African was reported to have fathered his 20th child with a much younger family friend and not one of his three wives (Bhatt, 2010). This came after the president confessed that during the trial that he had unprotected sex with a woman who was suspected to be HIV positive. The president shocked many when he affirmed that he took a shower afterwards to cut down the risk of contracting the disease. His statement was condemned by the judge, health experts, activists as well as the public. He was reported to father the child after that incident.
The Sunday Times, one of the popular newspapers, reported that the president had a daughter with a 39-year old woman who was divorced (Bhatt, 2010). The ethical issue in the tale is that despite having three wives, the child is alleged to be born out of wedlock. The president acknowledged the paternity of the lovechild. The president confirmed that he had undergone the required cultural imperatives hence he will be responsible for the child’s upbringing. Aristotle believed that for one to be regarded as virtuous the study of what virtue entails is not enough, one must do virtuous things.
He was of the view that we do not study to know what virtue is, rather we do this so that we can become good. The South African president has been faced with many scandals since he came to power, all of which undermine his character. Being in power demands a lot of effort in trying to maintain a good public figure. The president’s bad reputation has profound public consequences. The president admitted to having unprotected sex with a HIV positive woman. During the worlds AIDS Day he urged his countrymen to use condoms when having sex. He urged them to join hands in fighting the epidemic.
This is ironical since he was in the past heard affirming that taking a shower after having unprotected sex helps in reducing chances of infection. His public image was tarnished as a result of this statement; many view him as a sex-addict who needs to seek professional help. Some people compare him to Tiger Woods, a world celebrated golfer who has been on the spot for his mistress’ scandals (Bhatt, 2010) We learn to be virtuous by learning to do good implying that our good experiences teach us the art of being good. The president’s deeds show that he is not a person of good character (Bhatt, 2010).
Applying the Aristotelian model it is clear that there is no profit in studying the art of being various without applying it to daily life, there is no need to studying it in the first place. Ethical knowledge is not standard like that of mathematics. The president has therefore failed the test of applying the concepts of virtuous attitude in his private life. In his theory of Utilitarianism, John Stuart Miller suggests that our present condition of knowledge is determined by few past circumstances. In our case, the people have used the presidents past deeds to judge his actions.
Rarely do people talk of his good actions, the mention of Jacob Zuma reminds people of all the bad things that the president has done in the past. During the world’s AIDS Day, people considered his act of persuading the countrymen to use a condom when having sex as hypocritical, reason? He had earlier admitted to having unprotected sex with a HIV positive woman (Bhatt, 2010). The public, activists and medical specialists did not look at his action as a change of heart, they all condemned his act. The president vowed to take responsibility of the child.
This is a good act that was not acknowledged, people were still negative about it. His past deeds formed a basis for judgment. His act of fathering a daughter with a woman who was neither his fiancee nor wife is said to have undermined the countries campaign against AIDS (Bhatt, 2010). No praise was forthcoming regarding his acceptance to be responsible for raising the child. The most outstanding act of misconduct still lingers in people minds, the little progress is ignored. Immanuel Kant affirms that the expected consequences of an act are morally neutral, hence unrelated to moral deliberation.
The only important thing about moral value is the rationality of good will. True moral proposition must not be tied to any particular conditions. The countrymen anticipated the president to conduct himself according to their expectations. Good conduct does not have to result from compliance from set conditions, it is evident that some leaders conduct themselves well so as to abide by the set rule, according to Kant; this is not true moral proposition. Kant further urges us to act only according to the maxim wishing that our action shall become a universal law. An act is considered wrong if it does not receive support of many people.
The actions of the South African President are considered immoral since many people are opposed to his actions (Bhatt, 2010). He was criticized by many due to his actions and people started seeing him as a sex addict who would require professional help. The fact that he is a leader gave people more reason to publicly criticize him. There are many men who have done worst things that Zuma but they are not criticized. What the public holds as bad may not necessarily be true, human beings consider an act to be evil if majority of people are against it. Overall resolution The matter surrounding the South African president is a disgrace.
The matter is of public interest despite the fact that the president refused to acknowledge that, it is indeed a public affair since taxpayers will support the child. As a leader, good public figure is important, his image has been tainted and nothing good seems to be coming from him. The public has lost faith in him due to his many scandals, his advice to the countrymen during the world AIDS Day was not taken kindly, many people wondered why an individual who had been caught in a sex scandal and unprotected for that matter would urge them to join hands in curbing the disease.
This is one of the major ethical issues facing the society. Many public figures have been on the spotlight for doing things that are against the expectations of the society. Zuma is not an exception, for him, the scandals have been very serious, it is hard for people to see the positive side of him especially due to his past history. Any leader should be a good role model, he/she should portray good image that calls for emulation from his/her seniors. The most outstanding leadership style entails honesty and integrity. They know what to value most. With this they are aware of the essence of ethical behavior.
Good leaders encompass values and ethics in their leadership. Leadership values are portrayed through actions. Lack of faith in their leadership skills in any setting is not good. The countrymen don’t know what to expect from their president since he has proved that he is capable of doing anything. It is interesting to note that despite the expected code of conduct of such a leader, cases of misconduct are still reported; it is evident that the President was well aware that the countrymen had high expectations from him but his scandalous behavior made many to question his values.
Courtney from Study Moose
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