King of Bling se­ri­ous politi­cian af­ter Saul mo­ment

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - BIANCA CAPAZORIO

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL busi­ness­man Kenny Kunene, has, in just a few short days, man­aged to re­brand him­self from play­boy mil­lion­aire to se­ri­ous politi­cian.

Kunene, bet­ter known as South Africa’s King of Bling and for eat­ing sushi off sem­i­naked mod­els, is now go­ing bib­li­cal, com­par­ing him­self to Saul, who saw the er­ror of his ways on the road to Da­m­as­cus, and changed his name to Paul.

This week Kunene joined Julius Malema’s Eco­nomic Freedom Fight­ers, de­clared his po­lit­i­cal will, and vowed to leave his old ways be­hind – in­clud­ing bath­tubs of Cham­pagne and his usual bevy of at least 15 beau­ti­ful women who made up his mod­ern-day harem.

He said this week the women un­der­stood. “They un­der­stand and re­spect that I am em­bark­ing on this thing. We’re mov­ing on in our per­sonal spa­ces. They, too, have a role to play as young peo­ple. We’ll re­main friends, but when it comes to in­ti­mate is­sues, we have to put those be­hind us.”

To go with his more se­ri­ous im­age, Kunene has changed his Twit­ter han­dle from @ zarsushik­ing to the more re­spectable @Kenny-T-Kunene. Whereas the Sushi King would tweet about par­ties and women, Kenny- T is quot­ing Plato and Tu­pac Shakur in­ter­change­ably.

He says the change be­gan with an open let­ter to the ANC, in which he voiced his se­ri­ous con­cerns with the di­rec­tion the party was head­ing.

He called Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma a mon­ster, which in turn had ANC spokesman Jack­son Mthembu fire off a mis­sive about “a char­ac­ter called Kenny Kunene”, in which he says Kunene’s “state­ments are not wor­thy of a re­sponse from our glo­ri­ous move­ment”.

In re­turn, Kunene left the ANC, and ran right into the arms of Malema’s Eco­nomic Freedom Fight­ers.

“I have been dis­sat­is­fied with the way things have been in the ANC for a while now. I was al­ways aligned to the ANC Youth League un­der the lead­er­ship of Julius Malema.”

Asked about his friend­ship with Malema, Kunene says: “We have never been friends – he was my leader.

“When Zwelinz­ima Vavi at­tacked me, Malema was the only one who stood by my side. We are close. I can call him any time. We were close as com­rades, now we are fight­ers to­gether.”

In fact, it’s Floyd Shivambu, for­mer ANCYL spokesman, and also an Eco­nomic Freedom Fighter, who has al­ways been his friend.

Kunene says the ANC has “aban­doned” the ideals of the Freedom Char­ter, with the party turn­ing its back on chal­lenges fac­ing the young and the poor. The Eco­nomic Freedom Fight­ers are “rad­i­cal and rev­o­lu­tion­ary”, and would ad­vance those ideals that the ANC had aban­doned, he told Week­end Ar­gus.

De­spite re­ports, the Eco­nomic Freedom Fight­ers are not yet a po­lit­i­cal party, Kunene says.

The plan is to en­gage the na­tion, and then hold a national assem­bly at the end of this month.

“If the peo­ple of South Africa say they want an in­de­pen­dent po­lit­i­cal move­ment, then that is what we’ll do.”

They’ve al­ready got “pro­fes­sors and econ­o­mists and pol­icy-mak­ers” work­ing to­gether on a draft pol­icy state­ment. And while that pol­icy state­ment is not yet com­plete, it will be pro-poor.

Asked about how his opu- lent im­age will fit in with this pro- poor state­ment, Kunene said: “Your past is a jour­ney that you had to travel.”

And it’s here that he com­pares him­self to Saul/ Paul, and also the kind of peo­ple who come out of prison and be­come pas­tors.

Kunene be­lieves peo­ple are al­ready see­ing past his old im­age, and real­is­ing he is putting aside his hap­pi­ness “for the coun­try and for Africa”.

“I fo­cused on my­self and my own hap­pi­ness. And al­though I was giv­ing to char­ity and… help­ing peo­ple by putting them through univer­sity and pay­ing their school fees and buy­ing school uni­forms, the fo­cus was on my­self. But now I have been called on by the masses to fo­cus on them.”

He chose that life con­sciously and has no re­grets.

But now, Kunene is adamant that’s he’s been called on to live a dif­fer­ent life­style.

PIC­TURE: ITUME­LENG ENGLISH

COM­RADES: Busi­ness­man Kenny Kunene and Julius Malema at the 67th an­niver­sary of the ANC Youth League in Soweto in 2011.

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