News / Africa

South African Opposition Demand President Suspend Spokesman Implicated in Bribe Allegations

Mac Maharaj, former South African Minister of Transport. (File Photo)
Mac Maharaj, former South African Minister of Transport. (File Photo)
Delia Robertson

South African President Jacob Zuma says he won’t comment on the call by opposition parties for the suspension of his spokesman and former minister of transport Mac Maharaj.  The calls came after allegations that Maharaj and his wife received bribes related to a controversial 1999 defense procurement package that was worth $4.8 billion.

Zuma says that he cannot comment on the call to suspend his spokesman Mac Maharaj, because Maharaj has filed a legal complaint against the Mail & Guardian newspaper.  Last Friday, the paper published a report that alleged Maharaj lied to South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority, NPA.

Pierre de Vos, professor of constitutional law at the University of Cape Town, tells VOA it appears Zuma is hiding behind the pretext of legality.

“Given the fact that Mr. Maharaj has declined to make any explicit denial that he had actually lied to the NPA, something that would have been a criminal offense if it did happen, and given the other allegations leveled against Mr. Maharaj, I think the president is trying to avoid having to deal with this matter, and I think they don’t really know how to deal with it,” he said.

Before abandoning an investigation into Maharaj in 2007, the NPA questioned him about alleged bribes paid to him and his wife, Zarina, when Maharaj was minister of transport.

The alleged bribes came from the French company Thomson CSF, now known as Thales, through Zuma's former financial advisor Shabir Shaik. In 2005 Shaik was convicted of corruption for numerous payments made to or for the benefit of Zuma, including some on behalf of Thomson CSF. Shaik's conviction led to the dismissal of Zuma, who was then South Africa's deputy president.

Corruption and other charges against Zuma were controversially dropped by the NPA in 2009, a few months before he became president. The charges were related to the 1999 defense procurement package with several international arms-makers.

And now South Africa's Sunday Times reports that it has obtained a copy of a consultancy agreement, never before disclosed, between Thomson CSF and Shaik's company Minderley Investments.

The paper says the agreement shows secret payments totaling $300,000 were routed through Minderley to offshore bank accounts belonging to Maharaj's wife Zarina. The payments were made two months before her husband's department awarded the French company a driver’s license contract worth $33 million, a spin-off deal from the arms procurement package.

When asked on the eNews Channel’s The Justice Factor whether he had accepted a bribe, Maharaj did not directly answer the question.

“I will not subject myself an investigation by any singular media agency, when it is dealing with matters in an isolated way and does not put its information on the table,” he said.

De Vos says the developments will make it difficult for Maharaj to do his job.

"Well obviously, the problem is always if you are the spin-doctor basically, the spokesperson of the president, and a very high profile spokesperson of the president, and you become the story yourself and there are serious questions about your probity and your honesty, then the question is 'Can you actually fulfill your job properly and effectively,'” he said.

De Vos adds that if Maharaj cannot function effectively, it could also weaken the president.

You May Like

Video Report: Minneapolis Man Was 2nd American Killed in Syria

Local television report says Abdirahman Muhumed left the area to fight for Islamic State militants More

WHO Fears Ebola Outbreak Could Infect 20,000 People

World Health Organization says outbreak 'continues to accelerate' but that most cases are concentrated in a few local areas More

Angelina Jolie Marries Brad Pitt

Actors wed in small private ceremony Saturday in France More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid