JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s top communist is in danger of losing his working-class hero status after treating himself to the latest BMW 750i and using $120,000 in taxpayers’ money to buy it.
Blade Nzimande, general secretary of the South African Communist Party, is often seen wearing a Mao cap and is known for breaking into his favorite tune: “My mother was a kitchen girl, my father was a garden boy. That’s why I am a communist.’’
But his new wheels have soured his relationship with his close ally, COSATU, the country’s largest labor organization.
COSATU says the purchase of expensive cars by Nzimande, who is the country’s higher education minister, and other Cabinet members is a “slap in the face’’ of millions of poor South Africans, about a quarter of whom are unemployed as the country is suffering from its first recession in more than a decade.
COSATU has asked ministers to return their cars and instead opt for cheaper ones favored by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who bought two for the same price as Nzimande’s one.