Khanyi Dhlomo....R34m well spent I reckon

David Bullard says that, contrary to popular opinion, the NEF has made an astute investment

Judging by the comments on social media and in the press the decision by the National Empowerment Fund to loan Ndalo Luxury Ventures R34 million of taxpayer's money to fund "Luminance", a new boutique for the super-rich in Hyde Park, presages the end of the world as we know it. It is the grossest example of crony capitalism at work and highly inappropriate in a country where the cost of one item of clothing at Luminance would feed a family of six for a year.

I'm afraid I made that last statistic up but I think you'll agree that it has the shrill note of outrage so beloved of ill researched tabloid journalism. You don't have to wear a red beret to be outraged by such things.

The Economic Freedom Fighters say that Ndalo boss Khanyi Dhlomo must hand back the R34m, presumably so that it can be better used to help fund crackpot building schemes thought up by chubby, semi literate men in red berets. This might put Ms Dhlomo and her new venture in a tight spot though because she presumably borrowed the R34m because she needed it for the business and not simply to annoy the reds.

For the record, I am totally on the side of Khanyi Dhlomo and to report the NEF's loan as a "windfall" as one newspaper did is appallingly shoddy journalism. This is a perfectly normal business venture and the amount is not excessive bearing in mind the nature of the business and the location of the store. The problem seems to be the fact that Khanyi Dhlomo is a well known personality and therefore, according to ill founded criticism, she must have used her influence to swing this loan. Maybe she did and maybe she didn't but it would be absurd to suggest that anyone who happens to be a well known personality should be starved of capital for a new business venture.

Two years ago Ms Dhlomo featured in an article in the local Forbes magazine in a series entitled "Africa's Most Successful Women". She made history at the age of twenty as the SABC's first black newscaster as long ago as 1995. As one fan commented in the Forbes article "We watched the news because we wanted to see Khanyi Dhlomo on TV. Seeing her on TV made us sleep well at night". That tends to overplay her pin-up appeal at the expense of her sheer professionalism at presenting the news. She was always poised and elegant and had the most superb speaking voice to the obvious surprise of many white viewers back then, this one included.

After a relatively short spell at the SABC she moved to her greater love, print journalism, and worked as a fashion and beauty assistant on True Love magazine. This turned out to be a fairly menial position but within a short time Khanyi was appointed editor of the magazine. OMG... affirmative action gone mad some thought.

Not a bit of it. She researched the reading habits of her audience and repositioned the magazine, doubling the readership from 70000 to 140000 in a year. Peter Bruce should be so lucky. She then went on to take up the job of manager of the South African Tourism Board in Paris and after that headed to Harvard Business School for an MBA. When she returned to SA to start Ndalo Media, a joint venture with Naspers' Media 24, she published Destiny Magazine and Destiny Man, two titles still apparently doing well in a difficult market.

The test of whether the R34m loan from the NEF was a good judgement or not will be whether the NEF recoup their initial stake and turn a profit. There's no reason why Luminance shouldn't do fabulously well in South Africa and go on to become an international brand. Dhlomo's business credentials are impeccable (Koos Bekker would vouch for that I'm sure) and her diplomatic handling of the impertinent questions put to her by the media suggest that she should be a shoo-in for the diplomatic corps.

We need to celebrate people like Khanyi Dlhomo, not eviscerate them as our media seem so keen to do. As far as I am aware, there's not a hint of impropriety or scandal in anything she has done and, while I doubt if I can afford anything she stocks in Luminance, I wish her well and hope she puts South Africa on the global map. We need more Khanyi Dhlomos.


If you read the website and scroll back to the entry for June 10th you will find an allegation that I requested a threesome with Michelle Solomon, the troubled author of this blog. Ms Solomon has desperately attempted to make herself famous as a rape activist and claims to be a journalist in the Eastern Cape. She was allegedly "raped" thirteen years ago but has never reported the rape.

Last week she threatened to "out" the rapist on Twitter and asked if anybody would represent her should a civil action result. Surely a criminal charge would be more appropriate than an "outing" on Twitter, unless Ms Solomon is planning to extort some money from the alleged rapist.

However, her bizarre comments about my request for group sex (I've never even met her and, anyway, I'm rather pernickety about any potential troilistic activity from a quality control point of view) would suggest that an awful lot of what Ms Solomon says or writes may be the result of a rather fevered imagination. If women want us to take the charge of rape seriously in this country then they need to persuade people like Michelle Solomon to stop indulging in fantasy.

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