Mon Dec 05 14:38:20 SAST 2016

I'll spend what I like

Kenny Kunene | 2010-10-29 00:32:21.00 Comments

The Big Read: Dear Mr Vavi, You did not address me directly in your comments to the media but I was clearly your target. Unlike you, I will be less cowardly in what I know is my right to respond and make it clear that you, Mr Vavi, are my target.

There is definitely corruption in South Africa; there is cronyism, nepotism, bribery and everything else that rolls off your tongue like a rap sheet from a police printer. There's so much of it, in fact, that I can only wonder why you suddenly feel the need to talk about one birthday party as if it has anything to do with your particular form of social revolution or the principles of the struggle.

You say that my so-called R700000 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 my money on - a huge milestone in my life - when it's honest money spent on honest fun.

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

You remind me of what it felt like to live under apartheid: you are telling me, a black man, what I can and cannot do with my life.

White people threw big parties every day when I was a poor young black man. They are still throwing parties. There is nothing wrong with that. Many of them are my friends. I look up to many of them. We celebrate success, not doing what many now do, hiding their money in fear of what people like you will say. I want my life to inspire people to go into business, so they can create jobs for others.

A party like mine is not a place for you, but despite this you were only too happy to attend Robert Gumede's R50-million wedding held in full view of the poorest of the poor. You went without complaint. Must we conclude that lavish parties are okay, as long as you are invited to them?

You speak of my party as if I only care about the elite. I am having a follow-up party this coming weekend for the underprivileged and poor, who are also part of my life, and always will be.

During the World Cup you were sitting in elite air-conditioned suites. What were you eating there? What were you drinking? We didn't begrudge you a good time, we didn't mutter about it to the media. We didn't say you were spitting in the faces of the poor.

You became a political leader late in your life. Your comments smack of bitterness because if it's true that you only live on your salary then you will only be a millionaire, maybe a billionaire, in your next life.

You are narrow-minded and still think that it's a sin for black people to drive sports cars or be millionaires at a young age. You make my stomach turn.

You often speak of my wealth and that of others as acquired in "questionable ways". I have never hidden my criminal past. I have been to more than 2000 schools telling kids that they can drive sports cars, live in luxury houses, wear designer clothes and throw big parties - not through criminal acts, such as selling drugs, robbery, fraud, or contract killing.

If you advocate your particular lifestyle as the only virtuous lifestyle, how many of these kids do you think you could possibly inspire to make the right choices?

South Africa was very interested in the story of how your wife was being paid by SA Quantum to market to the unions. Despite the fact that SA Quantum actually bribed the Mail & Guardian to keep the story quiet (Mail & Guardian 1/4/2010), you were very glib in dismissing any corruption in the matter.

Perhaps the next time I feel like throwing a party I should just tell journalists that my wife is paying for it. Maybe that will shut you up.

I am self-made. I don't hide behind my wife's businesses.

In conclusion, I want to correct your misapprehension that my party cost R700000. It cost more. And no, in case you were wondering, you won't be invited to the next one either. In fact, the next time people are invited to my party, you can go hang or go to hell.

  • This is an edited version of the open letter businessman Kenny Kunene wrote to Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi
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I'll spend what I like

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