Consumption and indigestion

2010-12-27 10:14

It was at former Cosatu leader and cabinet minister Jay Naidoo’s book launch in July that I first heard the phrase “predatory elite”.

Naidoo warned of such an elite corps hijacking state resources for personal ambition.

Thereafter, various versions of the term were coined and came to define the political year as one of conspicuous consumption and enrichment.

Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is chief scion to the sushi set.

In August, as the country watched aghast as President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, stood to make R1 billion off the ArcelorMittal deal; Vavi warned that a corrupt political elite threatened to turn the country into a “full-blown predatory state”.

In reports at the time, Vavi said: “We’re headed for a predator state where a powerful, corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas are increasingly using the state to get rich.”

At Aurora mine, the president’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, has not paid his workers for most of this year while he vrooms around in several cars, each one more awesome than the last.

This set the public face against first-family enrichment, though the president is firm in his belief that the Zuma surname should not exclude its bearers from engaging in business.

The debate on conspicuous consumption grew more heated in October when City Press published photographs of former jailbird and businessman Kenny Kunene’s jaw-dropping 40th birthday party at his Sandton nightclub called ZAR.

At the party, Kunene hired models who posed as sushi platters off which the birthday boy and his guests (including presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema) nibbled sashimi and sticky rice.

This show of wealth, billed initially as a R700 000 bash, gave Vavi indigestion.

“It makes me sick,” said the unionist.

To which Kunene told Vavi to lighten up in a letter widely publicised and welcomed by people who see no harm in having a little dosh to splash around.

Besides, said Kunene, many youngsters looked up to him for the way in which he’d pulled himself up by the boot straps (or the Carduccis).

Vavi chose another animal as a metaphor when he responded to Kunene’s letter.

“I can’t roll around in the mud with a pig. One would never win.”

Since then, every analyst in town has waded in on conspicuous consumption.

The debate that resonates most with the chattering classes is simplified as: “We’ve earned our money and we’ll spend it as we like”.

Others, like me, pine for a degree more humility and solidarity in a country with the biggest wealth gap in the world.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.