The Zuluish kettle brand by Yandisa Zulu has ignited a social media debate about white labelling in South Africa. Photo: Supplied
The Zuluish kettle brand by Yandisa Zulu has ignited a social media debate about white labelling in South Africa. Photo: Supplied

Vusi Thembekwayo on the Big Zuluish Whitelabelling Debate

By Time of article published Aug 29, 2021

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Vusi Thembekwayo

THE Zuluish kettle brand by Yandisa Zulu has ignited a social media debate about white labelling in South Africa.

A white-label product is a product or service produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand. White-label products are sold by retailers with their own trademark but the products themselves are manufactured by a third party.

Some South Africans did not take kindly to the Zuluish kettle brand. Some tried to point out that the kettle could be found on Alibaba with a different brand. They insisted that the product was simply a product produced in China and rebranded to be on the market in South Africa.

As for Yandisa Zulu, this is what his brand is about: “’Zuluish’ is a combination of two words – uish is from the word ‘wish’, a derivative of the word ‘dream’. It’s always been a dream of mine to get into the industry with a long-term vision to be able to have full production in South Africa. A mere dream of a Zulu child from Africa in South Africa.”

South African entrepreneur and investor Vusi Thembekwayo. Photo: File

South African entrepreneur and investor Vusi Thembekwayo weighed in on the matter. This is his view:

As we speak, you are buying a car called Tata or Peugeot without complaint. And you buy it unaware and unconcerned about where the component parts are manufactured.

As we speak, you are buying appliances made under a third-party contract manufacturer (agreements some retailers have with manufacturers in China or Vietnam to produce their private label) from retailers across South Africa without complaint.

As we speak, you are using a phone to read this message. That phone was probably made in China but branded under a US, African or EU name.

To think that a start-up entrepreneur, who probably has no long term funding or equity capital, in the southernmost tip of Africa, can single handedly reverse globalisation and manufacture his own appliances here without being out-priced in the marketplace is the peak of hypocrisy. Those criticising the young man are the ones complaining about MaXhosa or Rich Mnisi’s prices. Clearly, they are not concerned with marginal cost and economies of scale as a driver of prices.

They are the ones attacking Bathu, by implying that Theo doesn’t own the business. They are the same ones attacking Drip for its latest range.

Start a business, they say. But what they really mean is: start something small, keep it small and charge the lowest prices.

When a young entrepreneur launched his own brand in electronics and the woke social-media soldiers, whose only preoccupation is destroying the dreams of others, are busy with exactly that – critiquing and destroying.

They clothe their jealousy and superficial understanding of complex issues with the salad dressing of being woke. Like they do with everything they don’t understand, they simply label this man a “scam”.

We must be one of the few countries in the world where people label something they don’t understand “a scam”.

Instead of being curious and learning, this league of judges scolds, ridicules and character assassinates innovators, hiding their malevolence under the cloak of revolutionary thinking. And when the thing they labelled a scam succeeds, then are the first to shout “give back”. The mindset is sick. It’s dangerous. It’s a jealousy-fuelled rage posing as wokeness. It’s the peak of hypocrisy. I am buying my Zuluish kettle and shipping it to my new home.

To every critic: you are the problem. You lack understanding and are too busy lining up to attack to ask for clarification.

Japan imitated the US until it built its own manufacturing capacity in order to be competitive. China copied Japan and the US until it developed its own manufacturing prowess.

Vietnam has been copying China for the past decade and is now a global powerhouse in manufacturing.

This is how globalisation works. Imitate what works until you can compete. Entrepreneurs don’t fix the global supply chain. They have to leverage it to build their businesses. Some will read this and say: “Yoh! This English is too what what.” Forget the English. Argue with me about the reasoning.

Yandisa Zulu.

Bless you, mjita.

Vusi Thembekwayo is a South African entrepreneur and investor.

*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites.


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