On Monday this week, Kenny Kunene claimed he did not know that he owned the domain name of a new news website, the Weekly Xposé.
By Tuesday, he had disclosed he was the majority shareholder, with plans for a big capital injection.
By Wednesday, it was due to start breaking the stranglehold of white monopoly capital and its media puppets.
But he insisted that apparent links with the Gupta family and its media empire existed only in the minds of “the architects of fake news” and “malicious journalists”.
Last month, the Weekly Xposé published an editorial with the headline, “EFF [Economic Freedom Fighters] has lost its revolutionary bite”, an article explaining that all of Twitter is paid Twitter, and an opinion piece that holds that fake news is the domain of traditional media.
On Wednesday, Kunene, the “Sushi King”, now known more for his flamboyance than for his conviction as an operator of a Ponzi scheme, was happy to declare that the Weekly Xposé is not another salvo in the online propaganda war but the start of great things.
“I want to make it as big as I can within my capacity and I hope it will grow,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “I can’t go into small things. I’m going to make it big, big, big, so that we have an impact, and a serious impact, on the media space.”
When the M&G first asked him about the site, Kunene said it was simply another news site from which he occasionally shared articles on social media. Shortly afterwards he said there had been some confusion, and he had missed an email, and that the site had been registered in his name, “by my IT [information technology] guy”, for a few people who had approached him with the idea.
The “IT guy” is Himanshu Tanwar, an employee of FutureTeQ, the company that designed the websites for Gupta-family outlets The New Age and ANN7. For two years before that, he was employed by the Gupta-owned Sahara computer group.
Kunene said Tanwar had dealt with websites for him before and that Tanwar had told him he was not employed by anyone. Kunene took considerable offence to questions about links with the Gupta family.
“I have no link with the Guptas. I’m a very independent man. I am very much independent. So stop linking me to people,” he said.
In mid-2016, Tanwar was apparently the victim of a sophisticated misinformation campaign, when the website voetsekblog.co.za was registered using his phone number but with what appeared to be a fake name. That website promised to stir up racial tensions in South Africa. Tanwar later told the M&G he knew nothing whatsoever about it.
The Weekly Xposé was registered using the same ISP and the same cellphone numbers as the voetsekblog, but with Tanwar’s email address. He could not be reached by phone and did not answer emails.
The vast majority of material published by the Weekly Xposé is syndicated by the African News Agency, which is owned by Sekunjalo.
Kunene said he had instructed the website team to “upload all the information on the website of who is the editor, and everything else … so you guys don’t think it is a faceless thing”.
By the time of publication that had not happened.
He would not put the M&G in contact with the website team. “They said they know you, they have been in the industry with you, they see what is your interest in another website, they don’t want to have that interview with you.”
Kunene said he planned to turn a profit on the site but editorial independence and truth were his top priorities.
“I said to them I am only going to be part of this thing if it is going to be objective and I don’t want anyone to be a victim of lies that comes out of this thing,” he said, referring to a meeting with its founders.

White monopoly capital wants to control media 

“The Mail & Guardian is the tool of white monopoly capital and is trying to shut down the Weekly Xposé in order to maintain a monopoly over the news — quote me saying that,” Kenny Kunene declared this week.
“You and I are South Africans, we must not bullshit each other … you guys are investigating this particular site because, number one, you can see it is not like a blog where people just write, it is a news site, and you are a newspaper, you don’t want competition …
“You want to shut this thing down before it even shows its head … You work for white monopoly capital, you belong to white monopoly capital and my viewpoint is white monopoly capital wants to continue to own the media, so you want to shut me down.
“When you saw the name of a black man being the one that is owning this thing, or being part of this thing, or behind this thing, you then decided you have to shut it down. You don’t want any black man to own media or to play in the media space in this country.
“You want to be the architect of the news, what must be consumed by the public … That is why you guys are, I believe, you are the architects of fake news.
“I am just thinking that this interview was not really about Kenny Kunene going into the media space. This call was more about let us destroy this future before it becomes a baby …
“It is not just the Mail & Guardian. I am saying all the mainstream media in this country, all the private media in this country, that is their intention.” 
Podcast presented by Govan Whittles
Interview conducted by Phillip De Wet
Copyright: Mail & Guardian Media.