HE's just a guy who cain't say no. Which explains why President Jacob Zuma is in a terrible fix, both in his private life and politically, whether he realises it or not.

With due apologies to Oscar Hammerstein for mangling his famous Oklahoma! lyrics, Zuma's apparently irresistible need to be loved by all is not only shaping up to be a millstone around his own neck, but has become a problem for the rest of us too, not to mention his wives.

If the president is unable to respect social boundaries such as those created through marriage, how can he be trusted to respect the boundaries erected in terms of the national constitution's checks and balances?

If he can't show restraint when in the company of old and trusting friends' daughters, how is he ever going to stand firm and do the morally correct thing when dealing with affairs of the state, such as signing off arms deals? If he has no self- discipline, how can he be expected to discipline others, like Julius Malema, when they get out of hand? And if he finds it impossible to follow the safe- sex guidelines that the government he leads has been trying to sell to the country's youth, why should they?

That is why the Zuma loyalists' protest that allegations of presidential infidelity are a private matter that should not be discussed in public are so much nonsense. We accept that polygamy is a cultural choice, even if in practice its morality is debatable. But promiscuity is a significant driver of the AIDS epidemic, and as SA's first citizen, Zuma has a duty to at least try to act as a role model.

It is equally ludicrous for the ruling party's youth league to insist Zuma's life choices must be respected, however poor they may be, as he is an "elder". Where were they when Malema, their esteemed leader, was hurling sexually loaded abuse at the leader of the official opposition, Helen Zille, after she had the temerity to question Zuma's attitude to women, precisely the issue that has got him into a compromising position yet again?