The Star reported on Wednesday that Kenny Kunene resigned from the party leadership of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with immediate effect.
Spokesperson for EFF Mbuyiseni Ndlovu on Wednesday clarified to the Mail & Guardian that the businessman has not left the party, but has stepped down as a leader. Kunene was the head of campaigns and special projects.
"Kunene stepped down for personal reasons, but he is still a member of our organisation," said Ndlovu.
He said the EFF was confident that this resignation would not hamper their campaign for next year's elections. "Although Kenny has vacated with immediate effect, we have always had someone working closely with him, and that will be our replacement."
Kunene, also known as the "Sushi King", told the Star on Tuesday that 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", the paper reported.
A new direction
Kunene was quoted as saying: "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.
Kunene announced his EFF membership in July after writing a letter to President Jacob Zuma, where he called Zuma a 'tyrant'.
At the time Kunene said that he had "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."
"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 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," he said.
Asked by the Star 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."