Maharaj dismisses alleged involvement in spy tape collusion

Presidency Spokesman Mac Maharaj on Sunday dismisses, as ‘paranoia’ spy tape claims that he co-ordinated President Jacob Zuma’s victory at the 2007 ANC conference in Polokwane.

“I think it is wild speculation by people who are paranoid,” said Maharaj.

The Sunday Times published a compilation of transcripts from the so-called spy tapes after the newspaper was granted access to them by the High Court in Pretoria on Friday.

One of the transcripts published on Sunday details a conversation between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and businessman Mzi Khumalo who was seen as a loyalist towards Thabo Mbeki.

At the Polokwane conference Mbeki stood for re-election as party president but was defeated by Zuma.

In the transcript, Khumalo is quoted telling McCarthy about Zuma’s victory by saying: “I went and told them [Mbeki camp] that Maharaj was back in full force. They had Mac Maharaj there co-ordinating the whole thing. And the whole cabal is back in force.” 

Zuma will have a cabinet which will include Maharaj, and all those guys, the first thing they will do is to pardon Shabir Shaik,” Khumalo could be heard saying. 

Asked what his comment on this transcript extract was, Maharaj said: “How do I respond to people’s own rich imagination? It doesn’t deserve a response.” 

“The facts are there. Mac Maharah is not in Cabinet. Shabir Shaik has not been pardoned,” he said.

Shabir Shaik who once served as Zuma’s financial adviser, was in 2005 convicted of fraud and corruption linked to the arms deal.

He served two years and four months of a 15-year sentence before his release on medical parole.

“It was understandable when it was apartheid and there was paranoia about the ANC,” said Maharaj.

“That [the claims in the transcript] is a different paranoia and I can’t account for it.”

The tapes are believed to reveal collusion between various organs of state against Zuma.

In other spy tape news
In 2009, acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe cited the tapes in his decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma, saying that they indicated that there was a political conspiracy against Zuma and so the case against him – apparently linked to the arms deal – could not continue.

In another transcript extract published on Sunday, McCarthy tells then National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Bulelani Ngcuka that: “Ja you know, Zuma will say we are conspiring against him.”

Discussion around then foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s suitability to become president – once Mbeki’s term in 2009 ran its course – is also detailed in the report on the tapes.

In one transcript, McCarthy describes Dlamini-Zuma’s performance during a radio interview shortly before the Polokwane conference as shocking and concluded that she was a “lost cause”.

According to the World Bank website, McCarthy has served as its integrity vice president since June 2008.

The Sunday Times said it would release the full transcripts and accompanying notes from meetings on its website on Wednesday. –Sapa

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