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  • Partying Amid Poverty Stirs South Africa Debate

    Zwelinzima Vavi, leader of Cosatu, the powerful trade union federation allied with the governing African National Congress, accused Mr. Kunene of “spitting on the face of the poor” and declared that parties where people who have gotten rich in dubious ways flaunt their wealth “turn my stomach.”

    SANDTON, South Africa — Kenny Kunene, a former gangster turned businessman, gave what he called “the mother of all parties” for his 40th birthday. With his small paunch protruding from a white tuxedo and his eyes hidden behind Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, he ate sushi from the belly of a woman who was wearing nothing but black lingerie and high heels while hundreds of guests looked on.

    Kenny Kunene, center, a convicted swindler whose business dealings have gained him access to South Africa’s elite, has raised eyebrows with his lifestyle.

    “I ate sushi off a black girl in Johannesburg,” Mr. Kunene said. “In Cape Town, I ate it off a white girl.” He says there will be no more sushi parties.

    As the revelers got tipsy on his liquor, he says he treated the most important among them — including Zizi Kodwa, President Jacob Zuma’s stylish spokesman, and Julius Malema, the rabble-rousing leader of the governing party’s youth wing — to $1,300 bottles of Dom Pérignon. Like the American rappers he emulates, Mr. Kunene himself swigged a bottle of Armand de Brignac Champagne that goes for more than $1,500 at his posh nightclub, ZAR, perched on the roof of a five-star hotel.

    His October bash here in Sandton, a Johannesburg suburb often described as the wealthiest square mile in Africa, and another sushi-eating party that Mr. Kunene hosted recently in Cape Town, have turned him into a peculiarly South African sensation. His antics set off raucous bickering in the governing alliance about the conspicuous consumption of a politically networked black elite in a country where the majority of young blacks do not even have jobs.

    Zwelinzima Vavi, leader of Cosatu, the powerful trade union federation allied with the governing African National Congress, accused Mr. Kunene of “spitting on the face of the poor” and declared that parties where people who have gotten rich in dubious ways flaunt their wealth “turn my stomach.”

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/world/africa/15southafrica.html?_r=1

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