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Thu Apr 17 17:55:19 SAST 2014

Vavi's high-life war hots up

BONGANI MDAKANE | 29 October, 2010 00:230 Comments

COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been given a taste of his own medicine after crossing swords with a wealthy Johannesburg businessman.

Last Thursday, Kenny Kunene spent R700, 000 on his 40th birthday party at the upmarket ZAR Lounge nightclub, which he owns.

His party featured models, who were painted grey, strutting around in lingerie.

Another model was draped on a table, and party-goers nibbled sushi served on her stomach.

Kunene's guests included presidential spokesman Zizi Kodwa, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, Malema's spokesman, Floyd Shivambu, and socialite Khanyi Mbau.

The booze included Dom Pérignon, Cristal and Moët&Chandon champagnes, and Chivaz Regal whisky.

On Wednesday, at the Civil Society conference in Boksburg, Vavi lashed out at "the BEE types who blow up to R700, 000 in one night on parties", calling them members of the "predatory elite".

"I am told at one party sushi was served from the bodies of half-naked ladies.

"It is the sight of these parties, where the elite display their wealth, often secured by questionable methods, that turns my stomach."

In a strongly worded response, a furious Kunene said: "Your tongue is like a rap sheet from a police printer."

Kunene, who is a senior executive of Central Rand Gold mining company, is a former teacher who spent six years in the Free State's Grootvlei Prison for fraud. He denied being a "BEE type".

"I've never benefited from any BEE deal, I've never applied for nor won a tender, and I do no work for government. I am grateful that my businesses are successful, and they allow me to buy the same things that others may have had to be corrupt to buy," he said.

Kunene said if Vavi cared so much for the poor, he should stop wearing "high-collar designer shirts".

"Why don't you sell your house and live in a shack. Why don't you stop meeting in top-class restaurants to hold court on the suffering of the masses?

"You say that my so-called R700, 000 party is a 'corruption of morality' and that I'm 'spitting in the face of the poor'. I should not have to defend what I spend on a huge milestone in my life, when it's honest money and we were having honest fun.

"You are clearly no stranger to the good life, as you had a lavish wedding two years ago, with horse-drawn carriages no less."

Yesterday, Vavi said in an SMS that he had not seen Kunene's letter. "I have not seen that honestly. I don't even want to see it, nor do I want to have an exchange with him. I have more important things to do.

"Why do you want me to brawl with a pig in the mud. I can't do that."

Kunene responded, saying: "If he doesn't exchange words with me, why was my party important yesterday and today is not important?"

Although he didn't mention names on Wednesday, Vavi had scathing words for the party guests. "The corrupting morality [of] our public representatives is seen in these parties ...

"Next year, this elite will not go out door-to door to get out people to vote.

"But soon thereafter they will host victory parties to scavenge on the carcass of our people like the typical hyenas that they are."

Shivambu said yesterday said he did not "want to respond to sheer opportunism by individuals who are driven by jealousy and petty politics. If truth be told, the general secretary of Cosatu is obsessed with the leadership of the ANCYL, and is recurrently trying to portray everyone as corrupt," he said.

"But it looks like he's also provoking suspension from the ANC so that he can form his own political party."

Kunene said Vavi was jealous as he was not invited and Malema was. The trade unionist, he said, was "only too happy to attend Robert Gumede's R50-million wedding held in full view of the poorest of the poor". - Additional reporting Amukelani Chauke

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