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South Africa's sushi wars

Andrew Harding | 14:04 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A sushi part at the nightclub the Zar, in Cape Town, South Africa, on 30 January 2011

Wealthy ANC supporter Kenny Kunene (left) eating sushi from the body of a bikini-clad woman

"The ANC Youth League welcomes the commitment to stop serving food on human bodies..." A statement to treasure. And no, it's not a question of hygiene. This is about sushi, barely clothed women, and "the ethos of our revolution".

It's also a story that gets close to the heart of South Africa's increasingly wide and uncomfortable wealth gap - a point heavily underlined by these grim new statistics - and to the ideological battles within the ruling alliance. Oh yes, and it's nearly election time here, which explains a lot.

Almost inevitably, the incident in question involves Julius Malema - the leader of the ruling party's youth league - a hard-partying populist who often seems to waver unapologetically between the doctrines of Che Guevara and Donald Trump.

Last weekend Mr Malema was in Cape Town, at the opening of a new nightclub. He has hotly denied suggesting that the club "belonged to the ANC" - as reported in one newspaper.

But no-one is disputing the fact that raw fish was served from the body of at least one bikini-clad woman who had been hired for that purpose.

A wealthy ANC supporter named Kenny Kunene was shown on the front pages of various local newspapers, grazing on her stomach and attempting to pour champagne into her mouth.

Last year, Mr Kunene enjoyed a similar meal at his own birthday party and was furiously unapologetic when accused of bad taste. But this time, no doubt with an eye on the upcoming local elections, the ANC has put its foot down more firmly.

And so, a chastened Mr Kunene has issued his own statement: "I will not be throwing or attending any further such sushi parties as I have nothing but respect for the leadership of the ANC and the guiding principles of the movement. Were it not for the work and struggle of these ANC leaders, my leaders, the money that black business people have made since 1994 would not have been possible, and this also applies to me."


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