Breaking News

Former Gangster Now Serves As South Africa Sports Minister

Former Gangster Now Serves As South Africa Sports Minister

Gayton McKenzie, a former bank robber and gangster who later became a nightclub owner and opposition politician, has been appointed as South Africa’s Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa appointed McKenzie to the position as part of a multi-party government following the African National Congress’s loss of its parliamentary majority in the May 29 election. McKenzie, known for his active presence on social media, expressed excitement about his new role and humorously shared his readiness by posting a photo of himself with football boots, stating, “Thank you for all the well-wishing messages, I will reply shortly I’m just busy getting ready, I have work to do 🥅 ⚽️.”

Read more: Comedian Munawar Faruqui Shares His Debut Photo With His Second Wife

For McKenzie’s supporters, his appointment signifies his journey from adversity to success. He began his life of crime at a young age, served time in prison, and transformed himself after his release into a motivational speaker, author of books such as “A Hustler’s Bible,” and a businessman involved in ventures ranging from mining in Zimbabwe to owning nightclubs in South Africa, alongside his prison friend Kenny Kunene, known as the “Sushi King” for his extravagant birthday parties.

Gayton McKenzie’s nightclub, including a Cape Town branch under his name, closed following legal disputes over unpaid rent and electricity, reported. McKenzie stated, “I’m not interested in clubbing. I’m focused on other projects. We ended the Zar brand – no future plans for Zar.”

McKenzie has transitioned into politics, co-founding the Patriotic Alliance (PA) in 2013 with Kenny Kunene as his deputy. Over a decade later, the party secured 2% of the national vote and performed well in Western Cape provincial elections, garnering 8%, predominantly from the coloured community, a term used for South Africa’s mixed-race population comprising about 8%.

The PA’s slogan, “Ons baiza nie” (“We are not scared” in Afrikaans), resonates widely within the coloured community. McKenzie highlighted, “For the first time, coloured people are also going to parliament through the Patriotic Alliance. We are the only party that takes all races to parliament.”

Political analyst Kagiso Pooe noted McKenzie’s charismatic and assertive style, which appeals to his constituency. Pooe observed, “People want to see someone from their background who isn’t afraid to say, ‘This is who I am,’ similar to personalities like President Zuma, President Trump, and others.”

McKenzie’s stance against undocumented migrants, under the slogan “Abahambe” (“They must leave” in Zulu), resonated with voters but drew criticism as xenophobic. McKenzie defended his position, asserting his background as a gangster prepared him for tackling South Africa’s crime, aiming for roles like the police ministry.

He emphasized, “South Africa needs me,” underscoring his readiness to confront issues like high murder rates and organized crime, as reported.

Gayton McKenzie remained undisturbed by his failure to secure a cabinet post, revealing he had confidentially sought the sports ministry in discussions with the ANC. “Sport can transform children’s lives. Engaging in sports keeps kids out of trouble,” he stated.

“I have one promise: I will elevate car spinning into a major sport in this country,” he declared in a live Facebook broadcast. Car spinning, a recognized motorsport in South Africa, involves vehicles circling while drivers perform stunts. Despite its recognition, street spinning, particularly in coloured, Indian, and black townships, remains controversial due to safety concerns.

“Tyre spinning originated in townships as a tribute to fallen gangsters during apartheid,” noted IOL sports journalist John Goliath. McKenzie pledged to promote safe spinning events to divert youth from gangsterism and drugs. “Spinning enthusiasts will receive recognition. When boys focus on cars, they steer clear of drugs,” he emphasized.

However, President Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint McKenzie to his cabinet is fraught with political risks, given an ongoing investigation by the Western Cape government. Formerly the mayor of Central Karoo, McKenzie faced accusations of mismanaging funds raised at a lavish 2022 gala aimed at improving public services. Despite court orders to disclose financial records, McKenzie’s party, the PA, criticized the ruling as biased, while the DA welcomed it, highlighting ongoing scrutiny.

As protests by the DA demanded accountability in Beaufort West, McKenzie vowed transparency, affirming his intention to visit and provide updates. “The truth will emerge. I have nothing to hide,” he asserted, dismissing allegations as baseless.