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Johannesburg - Businessman Kenny Kunene has resigned from the party leadership of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front with immediate effect.
Kunene, who is known as the “Sushi King”, told The Star on Tuesday he was relinquishing his position as head of campaigns, mobilisation and special projects, and will no longer be part of the party’s central command team, after “considering a lot of things”.
Known for his controversial, flamboyant lifestyle, the former convict and multimillionaire was seen as a crowd-pulling asset, particularly with the youth.
When pressed on whether he would again be seen wearing the EFF’s trademark red beret, Kunene said there were “still other decisions he was going to make going forward”.
“Obviously I’d like to see economic freedom being realised and I will remain an economic freedom fighter for ordinary people.
“The direction I am taking from now will determine if I will still be active in EFF,” he said.
Asked if he will be voting for the EFF in the elections, he said: “My vote remains my secret… If you are in a leadership position, your vote becomes obvious, and if not, it remains your secret.”
A former member of the ANC, Kunene joined the EFF after writing an unflattering open letter to President Jacob Zuma in which he denounced him and his leadership style.
There were reports in the media of Kunene being investigated for tax evasion soon after he joined the EFF, which was followed by the party claiming its leaders, including Malema, were being targeted by the taxman as a way of settling political scores.
In his open letter to Zuma, Kunene labelled the president a ‘tyrant” and “monster”. He said Zuma was feared by those close to him, who, when they spoke to his face, would tell him that “your imperial clothes are very stylish”.
Kunene refused to talk about his open letter to Zuma on Tuesday.
When asked if he had resigned from the leadership of the EFF because of his alleged tax difficulties, Kunene said he had settled his matter with Sars.
He was also evasive when asked if this was perhaps a move to return to the ANC.
“I don’t want to talk about the ANC. I am not an enemy of the ANC.
“I still meet ANC members, we chat and laugh and like (Zuma would) say, they tell me it’s cold outside the ANC and urge me to come back and get warm,” he said.
Kunene said Malema had “accepted and respected” his resignation from the EFF leadership, adding that he still believed the party “has a future, even when I am not there”.
When contacted, EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlosi could not confirm Kunene’s departure and asked to be given a chance to verify it. Ndlosi could, however, not be reached for comment later as promised.
In his own words:
Why he was joining the EFF:
I am now going full-time into politics as a member and a revolutionary cadre of the Economic Freedom Fighters to make it a force to be reckoned with and to contest the next election.
Why this movement?
The answer is that the majority of people I have interacted with are telling me that we need an alternative voice in this country that will be revolutionary. (The EFF) is the better, alternative voice of South Africans who are fed up with living without hope that things will ever change for the better.
On joining the EFF:
I have taken the decision to be part of a collective working hard and tirelessly to give birth to the Economic Freedom Fighters movement in order to not only take on the challenges facing the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable, but to show the ANC that it’s not just me who feels the way I do. Millions of others do too, and their votes will make that much clearer than anything I could write in a letter.
On announcing that he was joining the EFF:
I am like Paul who used to be Saul but saw the light on his way to Damascus. The life of sushi and my army of women I have put behind me. I see this as a challenge and a blessing that God has given me to have so many followers to make sure I contribute to the development of young people.
On reports of his alleged tax evasion:
This validates what I said in my open letter to President Jacob Zuma that the ruling party is using state organs to settle political scores. Our will and determination to emancipate our people from economic hardship will never be weakened by corrupt individuals.