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Under fire Zuma's regret at love child

South Africa's polygamist president apologised to the nation after being criticised for his extramarital affair that resulted in a daughter.

Analysts had argued that the love child revelations would have little impact because voters overwhelmingly supported Jacob Zuma in last year's election even though he was an unabashed polygamist who had admitted to having sex outside marriage.

But Zuma has had to make two public statements on the matter, a sign he and his advisers may be worried that South Africans will hold him to higher standards now that he is president.

"The matter, though private, has been a subject of much public discussion and debate," Zuma said in his latest statement on Saturday.

"I deeply regret the pain that I have caused to my family, the ANC, ... and South Africans in general."

Helen Zille, head of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said: "Words are not enough, he must now focus on repairing the damage he has done to the fight against HIV/Aids."

Zille and others say Zuma is a poor role model in a country of 50 million with an estimated 5.7 million infected with HIV -- more than any other country.

Zuma, acquitted of rape in 2006, has three wives and is engaged to a fourth woman.