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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

10 Jun 2005: Maharaj, Mac

POM     I would say disappointing. (The Durban conference on AIDS in Africa 2005) it was that people you would expect to be there weren't there, like you'd expect the Anglican Archbishop to be there, none of the heavies were there, not that that counted an awful lot but it counted in terms of – like if I had a choice between being in Washington DC for Hunger Day or being at an Aids conference in Durban, which do I choose? The heavy duty scientists have a choice between being in a conference in Rio de Janeiro next month which is a scientific conference, peer on peer, to deliver a paper of their findings in the last year, or delivering it at Durban, they prefer to do it abroad.So if a bigwig had the choice between doing a conference in SA or doing a conference abroad they prefer to do the international ones. That's one. Two, is that leaving the drugs aside it comes down to how do you deliver, how do you set in place counselling services, support bases, the clinic services, the lab services, the testing services, the follow-ups, the monitoring and all of that, and all people want is more, more this, more that, more the next, integration of usual words, building capacity, da da da da. It's not going to happen because you're talking about a problem that is part of the larger society's problem, it's not going to fixed just for one bit. It's just kind of pie in the sky. A lot on HIV as a human rights issue.

     Again it's kind of missing – there's no political leadership and that's the thing and the person out there who's got to haul in, for example, the churches which might be one of the best ways of disseminating a consistent message because it's in every community. You need government to call the leaders in and go through the process with them: this is the message that has to be sent, persuade them it's not a moral issue, that it's a disease issue and they're saving lives rather than condemning people to death. You need MPs to be sent for a year to their allotted constituencies every week to deliver one message consistently, go out, establish, get among the people, create a sense that 'we the government are with you, we, the representatives of the government, your representatives, we're with you, we want to know, we want to know what your problems are', to create a sense of national engagement – and there's none.

     The media were there,they had a room for media. The media have got so used to being at international conferences. Maybe I'm getting more cynical about it. I told you an article I want to get that was in Business Day yesterday by four what would be pretty well known scientists, one from the UK, from Australia, two others from different countries, and they were comparing the difference in the way HIV is treated in developing and developed countries and raised some interesting questions. One of the things they pointed out was that in developing countries the list of opportunistic diseases associated with HIV keeps expanding, it's like if you sneeze sufficiently you've HIV, suddenly your sneeze becomes an opportunistic disease, and that there may be an over-allotment of scarce health resources to HIV at the expense of such things as malaria and tuberculosis. It raises questions that have to be addressed and unfortunately Manto can't raise them because she's just –

MM     Become suspect.

POM     This is just so divisive. When she got up there she sang songs, she made jokes, she disparaged Ramphele, went right for her throat at the remarks she had made. She is a tough cookie. I'd put her some place else in the cabinet. Her whole approach was not just on the drug things but it was on –

MM     What do you think? The President is silent now suddenly. He said he was going to say what he's going to do and the papers are saying that Madiba has quietly supported JZ.

POM     But that doesn't exactly – I think Thabo will kind of react to that. I think the Scorpions had – someone told me they had on their posters, it said, "Scorpions to charge Zuma".

MM     Yes, that's the Mail & Guardian.

POM     Yes, so if they charged him first then Mbeki can make a statement. It'd be nice in a way, it's the order in which he would like things to happen: the man is charged.

MM     Oh I think that there are going to be problems. Did you see the opinion of Judge Heath?

POM     I saw that. Scathing.

MM     Yes. But the point is that they won't be able to use the evidence of the Schabir trial and that if they try to use it that evidence would run into huge problems. So if they can't use that evidence what can they use?

POM     Well if he's charged and acquitted then –

MM     Then there's a bigger problem for Mbeki.

POM     Well yes, then he's the next President.

MM     This is the point you see and then Mbeki's position in the ANC becomes untenable. At the moment I think the battle has shifted to the party level and Mbeki still has some room at the governmental level but I think it's closing up. I don't know what to make of this groundswell of support that Zuma seems to be gathering or are the papers just invoking it and therefore giving the impression that it's extremely strong? Earlier in the week they were saying that that groundswell is nothing.

POM     That has changed since last week. There seems to be a consensus among those like COSATU who say charge him and if he's found guilty then he's gone and if he's acquitted then he's acquitted but he wants his day in court, give him his day in court.

MM     But the point about it is that if the Scorpions are here they cannot use the evidence that they've used in the Schabir case. Charging him would be to make themselves fools.

POM     Well they maybe have left no – but not to charge him says 'we lack the evidence'.

MM     That's what happens when people don't give leadership.

POM     Do you think – how does Mo feel?

MM     I don't know. Well I think they are preoccupied with his brother Schabir. The judge has delivered more than the prosecution wanted. Schabir has had to have thirty million of his assets frozen. The fines come to about four million, four and a half million rand. Shares that they have in Cell C, everything, all that has got to be given over to try and pay the fines. So it's really taken him to the cleaners and I think it is open in respect in what happens to Chippy.

POM     Yes, that's the next one.

MM     And again they're going to fail because the judge made a factual mistake there. But be that as it may if they charge him he's dragged into something, an enormous cost, and the family is on its knees financially.

POM     Now is it Young, the guy who's been suing in another way, he's going after Mbeki?

MM     Yes, he's going after Mbeki.

POM     He says Mbeki met with Thompson when he was Deputy President. Why was he doing that?

MM     Yes. You see the point about this judgment, it makes any government, any minister, any president, into any business group who are making any business to say it's illegal, it's corrupt.

POM     Now did you read the judgment?

MM     I haven't read the judgment, I've got a copy on my desk. I got tied up yesterday.

POM     Of what you have read would you find Schabir guilty of corruption?

MM     I find it very difficult, I find the definition that the judge has used an extremely dangerous one for the future.

POM     But that's the way the law was written though, isn't it?

MM     Yes, but be that as it may the judge had the option in the way he interpreted it and he's interpreted it in the widest way.

POM     Now let me ask you, I think this is a valid question because it keeps coming back to my mind, if the judge hearing that case had been an African judge is there a strong likelihood that he would have interpreted the facts put before him in a different way, not that African people are corrupt at all but because they deal in transactions in ways that are the norm in their culture and that are completely different than an Anglo Saxon culture?

MM     No I don't think so. I think that there is no different in the two cultures in the way they deal in business because I think in the Anglo Saxon culture a D P Ferreira will pay two hundred thousand to have you as his guest at the Olympic Games just as Khumalo did it but he would do it without noise, and you would go there and be entertained by him and he would then take you to the rugby match in Australia and that is not to say that therefore it is accepted that you, the acceptee of those invitations, are now being snared into a corrupt relationship and that when D P then phones you and says, "Listen, you are running a company which is doing mining engineering and mine is a company that does mining, now in this I have a mine where I have mining rights, could you look at doing the construction of the plant?" He has an option of offering it to six other mining construction companies but he's chosen your company because he knows you. He is not going to put it out on tender for three bids to be put in and give it to the cheapest bid. He's going to give it to the one, it doesn't matter if it is more expensive, but he's going to give it to one who's going to deliver on time and enable him to maximise his investment. Now that's normal, very, very normal, and not only that he would pick up the phone to you six months later and say, "Listen, my son has just finished his B.Com in mining engineering side, could you employ him for one year so that he gets an exposure?" And they would say, "Sure, sure, no problem." That would happen but it would not be regarded as ensnaring each other into a corrupt relationship.

     Now that happens every day in the Anglo Saxon world. I have just read an interview with George Soros where he claims that his 13 year old son met Mandela but that his son has met most presidents in the world and he was saying it in the context that his son after meeting Mandela thought he has met one of the greatest men in the world. But in the course of saying that and making that point he said his son has met most presidents in the world.

POM     And it's just because George is an ordinary run of the mill chap.

MM     Yes. I just said to myself, what a spoilt brat is meeting Madiba. But can you imagine what would happen if it was said that Jacob Zuma took his daughter to France and that today it is reported that she's working for C F Thompson in Paris? That would be regarded as part of a corrupt relationship and the reason that the judge has put, they would regard that as payback.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.