About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

12 Jun 2005: Maharaj, Mac

POM     Let me begin, Mac, with a couple of general questions. At that time still a perception that has carried through is that you and Mo, in a way, are inter-linked. Mo unabashedly said that his reason for coming forward with confirming the allegation that Bulelani was investigated for being a spy was that – not just confirming it but being a source for Ranjeni Munusamy - was that he believed that Ncguka had been treating Zuma very unfairly, that Bulelani was out to destroy him, and in the media at least it was perceived that you and Mo were trying to destroy the person who was trying to destroy Zuma, that this was politics involved here in order to stop his drive to the presidency. I think that's the perception that existed in the media at least at the time and I think which still has lingered.

MM     Yes, the perception notwithstanding what I have said all along. I have said so at Hefer, I have said so on TV, in my interviews on TV, and the media, of course I understand, from their point of view that they persist in putting the story that I was part of this kind of Zuma - in order to promote Zuma for the presidency. I have said my reasons, which are distinctly different from Mo's, and I said so to Hefer even under oath. I experienced through the publication of the Sunday Times what I considered to be an abuse by the NPA. I looked at the matter, I became convinced of it, and when I was subpoenaed to the NPA I said so in my submission. I said only he could be the source of that leak to the Sunday Times. The documents that the Sunday Times referred to, faxes, invoices, bank statements, some of them could only be in the possession of Schabir Shaik, but what was with Schabir Shaik was taken in the searches by the Scorpions and they took the originals. They only returned to Schabir copies of any document that he requested from what they had captured if he needed it for business purposes and he had to pay for the making of the copies, and this was thousands of documents. So I said that leak is with you, the leak is from within the Scorpions.

     Now my problem was as the developments went I became more and more convinced that it was not just a leak from the Scorpions but that the head of the Scorpions was implicated in this rubbishing of me, e.g. the Jovial Rantau thing. It slipped out, the highest authority, let us say he said, "Somebody whose credibility I cannot question in the Scorpions." Next was the briefing of the editors given by Bulelani in which he rubbished me and my wife. So the question I was asking: why this conduct, why this abuse of authority, why if they are investigating do they not do the normal thing, subpoena me to come and give evidence, charge me? Why did they have to leak it to the newspapers because that is a calculated act to destroy a person's reputation, particularly in a situation where they do not find that they can prosecute.

     So with that background I said, what explains this conduct? The conduct doesn't make sense to me. I have seen the same thing happen as a passing of activity, I've seen the exposures on Zuma, I've seen the leaks on Zweli Mkhize, I've seen it on Schabir, these were leaks generally speaking on investigations that they were carrying out on people who had belonged to the liberation struggle. So I came to the view when Mo reminded me of the investigation into Bulelani, looking at that, that it may help one to understand that conduct of his and that is why when he found the report I was prepared to go public to say this investigation was done, because to me it doesn't explain the conduct of that office, it doesn't explain even the composition of that office. So that's my reason. The media tried to dismiss that reason as untrue, they chose to put their own understanding, their reasons to suit their analysis. That's fine. That's fine, but the media chose also to repeatedly ignore what I was saying about the institution, of the abuse of that office.

POM     And indeed paid little attention to it even when Hefer's report came out.

MM     Even when Hefer's report came out, even when Hefer says in his report that it was not his terms of reference but he is concerned by this, the media chose to ignore that until today. Even when there is a commission sitting on the future of the Scorpions, the media do not want to question the institutions of that office.

POM     By the way, just as an aside, from your last sentence – have you ever been invited to make a submission to that commission?

MM     No.

POM     Have other people been invited to?

MM     Not that I'm aware of. I think it was just a general notice in the newspapers saying that the closing date is the 17th and that they are only sitting – as far as I'm concerned the Hefer Report is a document in the hands of government and the President and it's part of the public record. They don't need me to tell them to go and read that report.

POM     OK. The second thing, Mac, is in the file that you handed to Mbeki to look at, did that file just contain a copy of the file that would be identifying Bulelani as RS452?

MM     And the false flag report.

POM     All the which reports?

MM     There was an analysis done suggesting that RS452 was a false flag operation, that is to say reports of certain agents were being disguised as if they were a report from RS452.

POM     That was in the file?

MM     That analysis was included in the report that I showed you. Mo and them had to do a search of the report because I said try to not stand up in public simply to say it's on the basis of memory, I need some documents. And of course at that time I wasn't aware, and I couldn't recall that it had featured in the Vula communications in any great length. So Mo and them did this search and when they produced the reports that helped me in my recollection and it helped me to say now you have got actual reports. You've got your analysis. That enables me to say, yes, so that if somebody says to me, why do you say that, is it purely memory? You could have conveniently constructed, not conveniently, constructed that such an investigation was genuinely carried out. I didn't know what we have since then learnt, Padraig. I didn't know that the Vula communications had been shown, my reports, OR's response, I didn't have the reports that I sent from Johannesburg to Gebhuza and Ronnie in Durban about the meeting of the leadership group with Madiba chairing and where I briefed Madiba about Bulelani and that chap producing the video. These things I had forgotten, these were details that I had not recollected.

POM     Was this file with Hefer?

MM     It was the reports that Mo and them had been intercepting from the Security Branch, written by RS452, the contents of the reports on which Mo and them made their analysis.

POM     Why I'm asking you that question is that, even though I haven't gotten to that part yet, I kind of glanced at it briefly because I've now been going through Hefer line by line – it would appear from the Hefer Report that Mo only came up with the false flag theory after Vanessa Brereton had been identified as RS452 and they kind of slid back to this. What I'm asking is – in part of your submission did you have the full report that Mo had made that included at that time, before Brereton had been exposed, that it could have been a false flag operation?

MM     Those reports, as far as I can recall, that were filed showed that in 1988 when we submitted the report, his analysis suggested that the person was in NADEL and he narrowed that down to possibly Bulelani. Later on, post-1994, while he was working under Nhlanhla he says he was entrusted by Nhlanhla to continue that project of identification. In that process, a little before the Stellenbosch conference, he not only examined the letter, he came up on the false flag and realised that RS452 was a different person and that RS452 name and number was being used as part of a false flag operation. That analysis was done before the ANC conference in Stellenbosch in 2000 or 2001. Then he wrote that report. Now that is before Vanessa Brereton identified herself. But I want to make it clear that his coming to the conclusion that it was a false flag was in 2001 and 2002.

POM     Was that after or before Hefer? Obviously before, sorry.

MM     Before Hefer.

POM     Yes that's 2003. In the document that you gave to Hefer did it contain the possibility of Bulelani being – that RS452 was a false flag?

MM     Yes.

POM     It did?

MM     Yes it did. It's not in my submission, it's in Mo's submission.

POM     I'll have to get copies of those, Mac, I really do.

MM     My submissions had to prove my assertion that an investigation has been carried out.

POM     You had to confirm that?

MM     Yes. In Mo's submission was here are the reports, this can be anonymous, he and his team mate, and sent on to …

POM     OK because I'll get to it when I go through the report with you. You know just in looking at his report, the Hefer Commission, I get to page two or three and there appears already to have a mistake. Here it says, "The documents leaked to City Press by a senior investigator, journalists said to have been sourced from the NIA data base, identified the head of the DPP, Bulelani, as possibly but not conclusively an apartheid spy nicknamed Agent RS452."

MM     That's the reporters.

POM     Then it goes on to the next one, "According to Mo Shaik, Special Adviser to the Minister of External Affairs, an intelligence unit of the ANC had come to its conclusion by late 1989." 1989?

MM     The start of it is 1988.

POM     "That there was a basis for suspecting Bulelani Ncguka as being RS452."

MM     Yes. You see because the analyses are ongoing. It's not as if you get one little report and that's everything, all the reports are there. You're getting different reports you're picking up in the batches, you continue analysing, you're sending your reports to Lusaka and you continue re-examining.

POM     Now it says, "Mac Maharaj confirmed the contents of the last paragraph and added that he still supported the conclusion arrived at in 1989." Now maybe I'm misreading what's in front of me or the way the judge uses the language, but when you say you still supported the conclusion arrived at in 1989 it would seem to me that you – well you had gone to Mbeki a couple of weeks beforehand, handed him the file.

MM     No, no. Look at the date of that City Press article.

POM     It's September 9th, 19th . The City Press Article was on 7 September and then you gave a radio interview, it says on 8 September. Now you had gone to Mbeki and you had given him the file and in that file was defining that Bulelani was probably agent RS452 but RS452 would have been mentioned in it and you suggested to him that a commission of some sorts be set up to look at all the reports from all the intelligence agencies to verify whether this was the case or not the case.

MM     I don't want you to use the word 'commission', I did not use the word 'commission'.

POM     Sorry, OK, not a commission.

MM     A committee, a small committee to analyse the facts, the data.

POM     To verify whether or not he would have been.

MM     I'm saying don't accept my word, that's all I'm saying.

POM     Then two weeks later, that's August 23rd, you still believe that –

MM     Yes, even I told Mbeki I believed it. It's not as if to say when I'm telling Mbeki to have a committee to look at this matter it's as if I don't have an opinion. I had an opinion based on the reports that Mo Shaik had and the record of working with Mo and them. I had an opinion even in 1988 but my opinion was that, yes, Mo and them are right. But when I went to Mbeki I said to him, "Don't accept my word, you are the president of the country, if you have to act you can't act on my word. Appoint a committee of analysts to interrogate this information and any other information so they can give you a collectively processed view by experts in the field." It's not what Mac Maharaj is saying. But my belief still stands. You see the difference?

POM     You still believe he was?

MM     Sure, even in front of Hefer. That's what Moerani in his cross-examining believed he was caught by, getting me to admit that I can't be sure.

POM     You said you don't know.

MM     Yes, I can't be sure.

POM     But if I asked you today do you still believe that Bulelani probably was a spy, would you say you still probably believe that?

MM     Well no, no, Padraig. I said this under oath, under cross-examination, not as a gimmick. In the face of information that the state had put, that other investigators had put at the commission of Hefer and in the face of denial of information from the state records I ended up saying under oath I can't be sure, and I remain on that position. I can't be sure.

     Now that Hefer has made it and you're asking me now what do I believe, I have to tell you I can't be sure. I would be stupid to say I still am sure. I mean I would be denying – there were lots of things that didn't happen in Hefer but there was lots of information put at Hefer which was used in the cross-examination, e.g. Vanessa Brereton said, "I am 452." Then a chap, I forget the chap's name who worked in her office, a lawyer, an Indian lawyer, says she could have stolen information from his files about NADEL. Those analyses said this information about NADEL could only come from somebody occupying a senior position in NADEL, it couldn't be a person like Brereton who was not in a leadership position at NADEL.

POM     Then why do you think that Hefer uses words in his report that the investigation, that the evidence of Messrs Maharaj and Shaik was totally unconvincing and unsubstantiated?

MM     Because he had other information put by his investigator which remained unchallenged, that is unshaken, and it remained unshaken because the commission found no need to call and subpoena witnesses. It did not subpoena Karl Edwards, it did not take evidence from Vanessa Brereton so that she could withstand cross-examination. She submitted her information by affidavit. We were not there to cross-examine her because the state said they would not fund me except to pay me witness fees for the days on which I gave evidence and that commission sat, if I recall correctly, for anything like two months. If it sat for even 20 days and I was there all 20 days with a Senior Counsel, I took a cheap line counsel at R12,500 per day, but 20 days at that I would be bankrupt. Then add to that my expenses of travelling, my hotel bill and my maintaining an office there to process material day and night. So I was not there. Vanessa Brereton's evidence was by the affidavit, Karl Edwards by a statement to the investigator, Kessie Naidu. I was not there to cross-examine the other witnesses, nor were other Security Branch called.

POM     What could Karl Edwards have added?

MM     Karl Edwards would have had to be cross-examined as to why he so readily for the first time in his life stood up to say Bulelani is not RS452. Karl Edwards would have had to answer about his business interests currently at that time going on in the Eastern Cape. Karl Edwards would have had to explain his motivation for having so rapidly found the report that showed that Vanessa Brereton was 452. He would have to face the test, produce supporting evidence. Why did he rush so quickly to go to the public, to the media to deny that Bulelani was 452? Unusual. So Karl Edwards would have had to explain and then he would have had to explain the contents of those reports that were 452. Was he satisfied as the handler that 452's reports of what is happening in an executive committee meeting of NADEL was a true and accurate report of what was discussed there knowing that Vanessa was not a member of the executive? So all sorts of questions would have come up which would have affected his credibility and his motivations.

POM     Does he have – what business is he engaged in in the Eastern Cape?

MM     With Stone Sizane ex MEC for Eastern Cape during the time of Stofile. Stone lost his position as MEC, now in business getting government contracts.

POM     Sorry, under Stofile he was what?

MM     Under Stofile Stone Sizane was an MPC, Stone Sizane an activist from UDF days. Stone and Karl Edwards are in business together in Port Elizabeth. Their business is to have government contracts, development programmes at the provincial and local government level.

POM     That's a howl.

MM     We would have pushed this if I was there to cross-examine but then I would have also challenged when the President, through Frank Chikane, filed a letter to say that there was no need for the commission to have access to the reports that are in the state files because the President has seen those. I would have challenged it. I would have asked for Frank Chikane to come there in person and be cross-examined and cross-examine him as to why then did the President bother to appoint the commission.

POM     Well he says that – let me just go back on that because that's very interesting, just on the history of that. You meet with the President on 23 August. You inform him – you hand him the file and that contains the analysis that –

MM     No, let's put it again, I hand him reports one by one.

POM     One by one. So among those reports he would see that Ngcuka was possibly Agent RS452?

MM     Yes.

POM     OK. That's on 23 August. On 7 September Mo goes public. On the 8 August you confirm and still say you support the conclusion. On the 19th Mbeki appoints the one-man commission. On October 7th he extends the mandate of the commission.

MM     No, he changes it.

POM     Yes, well Hefer says he expands it. Anyway that expansion is given. On 11 November he narrows, narrows, OK? On 12 November all the state security agencies say they will not give any kind of evidence. On 11 November, the day that he narrows the scope of the evidence, he writes to Hefer and he says not only does he have unfettered access to all the information of agents' state security files but he says very cleverly that he doesn't have access to the information that you guys have. He says Mo and Mac Maharaj aren't in state security. But I wouldn't have appointed a commission if I was relying only on state security because I already know what's in there but I don't know what Mo and Mac have so they have to come up with their own evidence. However, nobody can help them. It's irrelevant because we know it. And two weeks later on 23rd, so between 11 and 23 November Vanessa Brereton begins to surface in the media as possibly 452. And then at the same time on 23 November he confirms it, Kessie Naidu was even able to get in touch with her, and the Treasury comes out and the state confirm it. So what Mbeki said in his letter was that they wouldn't reveal anything in those files, he now confirms what's in those files, but he could have confirmed what was in those files two weeks earlier.

MM     Padraig, he could not. The truth of the matter is that Treasury search was done by Kessie and them.

POM     Was done by?

MM     Kessie Naidu. Is she registered on the pension? Is Bulelani registered on the pension? And the answer was she is registered, there's no record of Bulelani. RS452, Vanessa, is registered. That's what it said. But the point about it is that the President had a far more effective mechanism to get exactly what Mo had. Mo had been a member of NIA, he was the co-ordinator of the Co-ordinating Committee. As such he was bound by the Official Secrets Act and I had said to him these are reports from Mo, and all he had to do was to get the Minister of Intelligence to write a letter to Mo Shaik and say, "In terms of your official work you are now required to divulge every report that you have. Failure to do so means you will be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act."

POM     You told this to Mbeki?

MM     I'm saying that's the action that he had available to him.

POM     But he also had the number RS452 which he could have picked up the phone and said, "Find out for me who RS452 was?"

MM     No, no, no, he didn't have to do that. He would have to say, Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of National Intelligence, can you urgently give me a full report on these allegations being made by Mac and Mo about Bulelani, not about 452, that's not the issue. The issue is they are saying this is about Bulelani. I want two things from you, was there an investigation carried out and what were the findings of the investigation? Secondly, what are your views today? Is he, was he an agent? Now you are the Minister of Intelligence, that's what I want to know.Not little petty things, micro-managing the thing, not who is RS452, did RS452 get a pension? Nonsense.

POM     In Chikane's letter he says to the commission that no document would be disclosed that revealed the identity of RS452.

MM     Fine, but for him the minister should divulge, he's the president of the country.

POM     That's right.

MM     Yes, so all he has to say to her is, Lindiwe Sisulu, I want a report, (i) is or was Bulelani a spy? (ii) If he was, is he 452 or was there some other person? (iii) If he wasn't, who is 452? Please process this matter, have all the supporting documents that you have used available and thirdly, tell me is there anything that is missing or that you do not have which you think Mo and Mac have got? Please use your powers as Minister of Intelligence to get that information from them. Please.

POM     Then to move backwards to 23 August. You sit there in that room with him and you inform him that some time that day there's going to be a press conference and that it is going to be held by Maduna and by Ngcuka and they are going to announce that there is a prima facie case of corruption against Jacob Zuma, his Deputy President, but that they are not going to prosecute.

MM     They're going to do a Pontius Pilate.

POM     And he looks at you with kind of benign ignorance, to get a better word. He didn't say, "I know that." Now my question is, and this refers to the structures of government, is it at all possible that a minister could stand beside an appointee of his where an accusation of that level could be announced by them without it having been vetted by the President, not only informed but vetted by the President even insofar as looking at the actual statement they are going to make given the enormous implications?

MM     It is not possible unless the President is a person who is just a token president. It was his Deputy President that is affected. It has huge repercussions for the concept of justice, for the position of office bearer of the Deputy President. It has huge implications for the Minister of Justice and the head of the NPA.

POM     Yes, so could you, like when you were Minister of Transport, say you'd come across something that suggested that Thabo was getting money, could you stand up in public without informing Mandela and say, "I've a statement to make here. I think our friend Thabo is corrupt because I've a lot of information. Well I couldn't prove it in a court of law."

MM     I would have been irresponsible in that matter if I didn't go to President Mandela, clear it with him, and say, now under these circumstances because I'm the Minister of Justice I have to say this in public. Here is my ground. And only if he said to me, go ahead, or he said to me, if you want to say these things you must be prepared to stand by them and if it turns out that you are at fault in your judgement you will be hanging alone. I won't be there to support you because you've arrived at very strong conclusions and you are determined to make this statement publicly. Now, the second one is unlikely, Mandela would never have done that thing like that. Mandela would have said to me, hm, if this is new, this is new to me, do you have to make this statement today? I need time to think about this. I need to process this thing. Or if Mandela has already been privy to the whole process: agreed, go ahead but just keep my name out of it. Finish. Any other way would have been irresponsible and if he had not been informed, after the event he would have called them and said what have you done? How could you do this to me as the President, to leave me in the dark and make this announcement and then the media are on to me, now as President what do I say? Do you know that the media will be at me immediately after your press conference? So, something like that.

POM     If you look at that period from 23 August, you going to him and he being the first to know about these allegations, so to speak, and about what's about to happen to his Deputy President, and then his appointment of the commission, and then his amending it and then re-amending it to make it that you're really hanging out there on your own –

MM     And to make this commission an irrelevant commission because he says, "Only that abuse that is directly related to the spy. I'm not interested in any other abuse of authority." That's the implication of those last terms of reference. The implication of the last terms of reference is, I'm interested spy or not spy, but I'm not interested in abuse by the Prosecution Authority unless that abuse is directly related to his being a spy. So he knew.

POM     But he also knows the information you have because you showed it to him.

MM     Yes. He knows also the basis on which Maduna and Bulelani have said the Deputy President is going to be hung up to dry. He knows it. And he knows that the changing of the terms of reference three times is because this first one, I welcomed it and I very, very publicly said I hoped that this would enable me to put the abuse on the table. I mean I'm angry and it shows everything was being amended in a hurry by the advice of his Minister of Justice, include, then bringing in the Minister of Justice into the terms of reference because Penuell is cocky, "Oh I'll deal with Mac." And I say it's welcome now because it has put the minister in a position where I can ask him in the box and when they really look at that they say, "Shit! What have we done here? We've opened the door to abuse being examined. Close the door." And that is why you have a ridiculous third version which actually says by implication that the President is not interested in abuse by that office, he is only interested in the abuse which is directly related to that person who may have been a spy.

POM     But he already has the information and everything and probably has conducted his own – I mean if he didn't remember that number, there he sees a number sitting in front of him and he's a man of some intelligence, I find it difficult to believe that he didn't immediately follow up.

MM     Yes, but the point about it, Padraig, is if your highest constitutional authority is alleged to have abused its authority, doesn't that become the crucial issue? The question of whether the person was or was not a spy comes in later on but the first thing is that there are people who are being victimised wrongly. That's the issue you deal with. It's been in the media, it's been there about the press briefing by Bulelani, it's been there in my article on Jovial and the tape, all that is coming out and it is saying they are using the media to try you where you cannot answer back.

POM     OK.

MM     Now wouldn't that be your prime preoccupation? Wouldn't that have been the primary purpose of a commission of enquiry? Is there abuse going on by this office? Second question, how serious is that abuse? Is that abuse coming right from the top and if it is coming from the top is it in any way related to the investigation that he was a spy?

     This is where, Padraig, I find the media vulnerable. I'm not fighting the media, I make general statements all the time, but outside of Jeremy Gordin all the others have totally closed their eyes to the abuse of that authority. Even now when Brett Kebble, as those charges against his father have been withdrawn and Brett says he wants to give evidence to the Commission, Business Day writes an editorial saying what business have you got to give evidence? You've got nothing to tell this commission. So that's the extent to which there has been a shutdown on the abuse. That's because they are confident that the President does not want to look at the abuse. Even now he appoints a commission about the future and the relationship of the Scorpions, etc., but he does not say infrastructure wrong. Are the powers such that its accountability has been watered down such that it can abuse its power? My Public Protector says that the Scorpions misused their powers against my Deputy President. He's never shown interest in that question.

POM     So, just trying to pull things together. One, Bulelani has snookered you completely. Why do you think he did that? Two, he steps out on the path to destroy Zuma. Why do you think he did that? Three, you have Thabo playing a machiavellian manipulator. What was his game? You have three different, inter-related, but three different things going on involving Bulelani at one end and the President at the other.

MM     My explanations I've given at different times before Hefer, etc., and they keep changing because these are speculations trying to understand the politics of power in SA and within the ANC. I'm not there, I can only speculate, and it's wrong for the speculation to become the centre thing. What I said at that time, like I said to you, what explains Bulelani's abuse of that authority? I say I thought it was his spy background. But if it is not his spy background then the question still stands: what explains it? I think the latter question is what explains the President's disinterest in the abuse of power by the Scorpions?

POM     Yes, but I'm talking – let's not go there, I want to confine it to here is a man who when you inform him and you give him the information he looks you in the eye and kind of thumbs through it, looks at each document, and then says, "OK, if you come up with anything else let me know, let's keep in touch", all the time he says, "Oh?", about the press conference about to be held. He amends the commission's terms of reference twice after the original ones in order to squeeze you into a position of where you're kind of damned, and then within two weeks after that, or a week because reports were appearing in the media, a week after he had narrowed the definition, said that he had all information available that he needed and suddenly a mysterious source that was never traced says Vanessa Brereton was RS452.My opinion would be – Jesus! This guy is one master manipulator. He squeezed you out of it, left you hanging on no limb whatsoever. He got you at one end with –

MM     For what reason?

POM     OK, but what reason is he doing it overall? Does he not want Jacob Zuma to be President?

MM     I don't know. At that time the issue didn't feature that way. We never saw Jacob Zuma in the picture on this question. From my point of view I can read the facts of what was there on the table for me. I never made a reference to Jacob Zuma. To me, you know the history of Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki?

POM     I don't actually. They didn't get on?

MM     They were at Mells Park.

POM     They were at Mells Park together, yes.

MM     Talking to Basie Smit, and I've said it repeatedly, that they were disowning us.

POM     That they were what?

MM     They behaved in a way that they left Vula as if to say it was a maverick operation. Who did that? Who was talking to the regime? It was Zuma, it was Penuell Maduna, it was Matthews Phosa, it was Thabo Mbeki, it was Aziz Pahad, even the people who were in discussions with the Basie Smits and all.

POM     But they wouldn't have known –

MM     I told you that Zuma was in the Politburo, Thabo was in the Politburo.

POM     Yes, I know they knew, and Zuma knew independently because Zuma says when I talked to him that he was selected to go home and had made preparations and he had told Tambo he would make preparations on his own and go in on his own, and then he got the job at National Intelligence, but otherwise he was heading home.

MM     I'm saying to you they knew. I don't have to go into the chapter and verse of it.

POM     Well Aziz Pahad wouldn't have known?

MM     Aziz Pahad wouldn't know but he could have been told. What makes the assumption that they were keeping the thing such a secret? I don't know, I don't want to make assumptions, but the point I'm making is the criticism in the ANC, "Mandela, you're spending too much time on the release of Mac Maharaj. Concentrate on the negotiations and then ipso facto Mac will get released later on." Who was putting that line? Slovo? Chris Hani? Who was in the NEC? Penuell's not in the NEC. Matthews Phosa was not in the NEC. These are discussions going on in the NEC and NWC. Who was painting a picture of Mac being a wild revolutionary and insurrectionist and all that, and anti negotiations?

MM     Where did we stop?

POM     We just stopped at the end of no use in you speculating, that would put you in a position of making statements that you couldn't prove, allegations that couldn't be proved.

MM     Yes. And I'm saying if all he wanted was to ask this commission in the end to look at the information that Mo and Mac have and to arrive at conclusions based on that information alone, ignore what is in the state files, so he was asking the commission to work with a whole lot of information inaccessible to it. Now if that's what he wanted he just had to say, "Judge Hefer, can you just ask Mac and Mo to give all their reports pending which you take action against them. Transport it to me and I will make the analysis because I've got everything else." You don't leave the analysis in the hands of the person who's got half the information, but that's what he did.

POM     Let me move back a little here. There's one thing I want to clear up from the last time we spoke.

MM     If you say he was a brilliant manipulator, I would question that. If you read the three terms of reference it's patently clear that he was fumbling and he had the media behind him on this matter and that is why he could get away with murder. The last terms of reference was so laughable, they made no sense for you to spend all that money appointing a commission, they make no sense.

POM     Why didn't you say that and say I can't participate in a farce?

MM     When I do that what am I doing?What am I doing when I said the state is not even supporting us financially? The papers jumped down our throats and said he's squealing. And if I did this on the terms of reference they would have said, "What is this?" It was a different ball game as it is even now happening with Zuma as you can see between how the media were backing him and how the ground was reacting. I could not afford to then say I will not co-operate. I had to believe that in our media there are people with some good sense, rational sense and integrity.

POM     What did you find out?

MM     Only one person. Only one. All the others were interested, who were writing on these matters, were interested only in themselves and interested in which way power is swinging and be part of the inside track. Nothing else. Now I'm talking about the journalists who were writing, but the environment that they created was that you couldn't say after welcoming the first terms of reference, second one, now the third one, is that the third one was made as the commission was already in session. So practically one couldn't.

     The ANC would have gone against me. The ANC would say, "We now expel you forimpugning the reputation of our President." So I would have been completely finished, completely, in the ANC and everything. Today I wouldn't have been able to walk in the streets and have people greet me and come and want to shake hands with me and call me comrade. It's very easy to see –

POM     That says a lot about the power of the party, Mac.

MM     It says a lot about our society including the media and the bench. Why didn't Hefer say, "These terms of reference have now made this commission of enquiry ridiculous and this letter from the DG and the stance of the security services has now made this commission untenable."

POM     Nevertheless he goes ahead and makes dramatic findings.

MM     He's a man whose pension is secure, he's retired, he's got all the wealth, so why didn't he say that? What does that say about the judiciary? He did exactly – it's a pity, you know what Squires did on one level Hefer did to me. He said on the question of the spy and relationship of abuse, "No, no, we'll talk about that later, we won't make a ruling." He allowed you to think that you could carry on bringing the abuse to the table. He let me put the abuse to the table but when it came to cross-examining Bulelani he said, "No you can't except in relation to abuse that is related to spying", and flattening my counsel, chuck him out. Now look what Squires did, from day one he kept intervening with the prosecution, "This is not a trial about Jacob Zuma. This is not a trial looking into the arms deal." Repeatedly. And the result was Schabir's defence advocate did not pursue those matters because he said the judge won't even look at those things. But when he gave his judgment the central thing was the arms deal and the relationship with Jacob Zuma.

     I'm not saying this in order to try and rubbish that judgment but I am saying this from my experience with Hefer. I couldn't afford to turn round and say, "Judge Hefer, you are not impartial, you come from the old order." No. Even now anybody, forget the Youth League the way they make their wild statements, anybody at the moment who questioned the conduct of Squires would be rubbished out of existence. That's why not even JZ says 'I question Squires findings'. He simply keeps saying, "I have not been charged. I have not been given the opportunity to answer." And today who writes, I think Jeremy Gordin in The Independent, saying that Zuma has had three chances to answer.

POM     He says what? Sorry. What does Gordin say?

MM     He says Zuma had three opportunities to answer and chose not to answer. He says he could have gone to Hefer, could have gone to Schabir's trial as a witness for the defence or the prosecution, and when Penuell and Bulelani made that statement about prima facie but not winnable Zuma had a chance to answer. So he says he had three opportunities to answer but all of them, he is saying by implication, you had to answer in the media.

     Thabo also miscalculated when he set up that commission, while he woke up and changed the terms of reference he never expected that it will be open to the television and because it was open to the television, till today there are lots and lots of people throughout the country who still say, "Mo, Mac, we believe you guys", and they say, "We believe you guys have been treated badly." That's because we were there speaking directly past the media. We did not rely on the media reporting what we were saying. We were going straight to the public because of that television position. Yes, I think he understands power, he's a manipulator of power. How effective? I don't know.

POM     What do you see his options as now? Is he going to wait for him to be charged? Is he going to meet with the alliance leaders and say, if he's charged you understand he has to back down or step down, and appoint an Acting Deputy President, and if he's acquitted – ?

MM     And the issues are beyond issues of little laws and constitutions and rules. This has become a straight political fight. It's got nothing to do with all those technical legal questions. If he is charged surely until found guilty it cannot be said, now you are out. It can be said – take leave of absence away from duty and the state will fund the defence because you are charged with activities, presumably criminal, conducted while you were holding office. Whether they were criminal or not is going to come out at the trial and it will only be known when there's judgment. But until then I cannot say to you, dismissed. Technically I could say that to you but politically I can't. He is not going to get away this time with saying, like Penuell got his State Attorney to write to me and say, "We are not going to be funding your travelling and hotel bills and legal expenses except for the days you give evidence." They can't do that. There's going to be such a political howl, it's going to bring in the Eugene de Kocks, the Magnus Malans, the Wouter Bassons and everything is going to come in again, but this time it's going to come in in a highly emotionally charged situation.

POM     And when it goes to court, or if it does, then this whole question that's hanging out there - who wrote the letter to Gavin Woods?

     MMIt was Mbeki who wrote the letter

POM     Who was it that said, "It wasn't written in the style of Zuma. It was written in Thabo's words."(break in recording)

     MM     It's an emergency situation. …What I'm saying is that after proposing this motion will Thabo survive as President of the ANC? These are questions that do not belong to our text book of democracy but are crucial incidents of accountability because the structure is based on the pre-eminence of the political parties. Our democracy is defined in terms of the pre-eminence of the political parties.

POM     And for the time being that means one party.

MM     No, no, no, not one party, it's proportional representation. Remember in the west –

POM     Oh I know, yes, the system that you have is the most imperfect system of democracy.

MM     Yes. But be that as it may the debate in the west has been that the Westminster model is the most undemocratic so Blair has just come in with less votes than the opposition put together but he has complete, untrammelled power and in Britain is where I came across the proportional representational debate from as far back as 1958, that it is the most superior form because it allows for minorities to be represented in parliament.

POM     But then you had – OK, yes, but then you had just the two party system, now you've a three party system, and the way these constituencies are divided, the Liberals can gain 20% of the vote and 5% of the seats.

MM     Yes, that's Westminster. But now, given that this is the constitution which everybody in the world was saying is a great advance because we brought in proportional representation to allay the fears of the minorities. If we had gone for the Westminster model or the American model we would have swept the boards, there wouldn't have been a government of national unity because there would have been nobody sitting in that parliament. There would have been probably four or five MPs from different parties. But we chose proportional, we shifted our position to allay the fears of the minorities. That was at that time minorities in terms of race and culture. It is now being translated that it's a vicious system against minority political parties. So we were doing a thing for a particular moment and conjuncture. The world said, "Fantastic!" Now when that pre-eminence translates itself in maybe the president of the country being removed by the party to which the president belongs, what's wrong with it? Would you accept that the British Prime Minister loses the confidence of the Labour Party and still survives as Prime Minister of Britain?

POM     No, all it takes are the MPs to get together. He can be gone in 24 hours.

MM     That's what will happen here if the ANC takes it decision, removes the president and instructs its MPs at their caucus to meet and discuss now the situation, the caucus meets and meets the next day in parliament and moves that the president be impeached. Finished. They move that. Why? The president has lost the confidence of the ANC, the ANC has now elected so-and-so as president and we now move that that person as the leader of the ANC becomes the president of the country. Possibility. There is no form of accountability that is pure or given and absolutely just. I've learnt one thing: justice and truth -

POM     Are two very different things.

MM     We must criticise always.

POM     That's why one of the examined questions in the TRC, no-one ever said, does this truth lead to reconciliation? Rarely. Does truth lead to justice? Probably less than rarely.

MM     Correct. I had a very interesting statement from – I think I told you, the other day I was meeting Alf Khumalo, the photographer, at his house. Did I tell you?

POM     No.

MM     I went to his house.

POM     This is who, Mac?

MM     Alf Khumalo, he's a photographer. These publishers from New Zealand wanted some of his photographs so I went with the publishers and their researcher here and I contacted Alf and it was only the Saturday that this could be discussed so we went to his home. His wife sits on the board of Afrox Health, etc., Healthline, she came in, offered us tea and juice and then she sat next to me while the others were talking about Alf and his photographs and what he'd charge them. She wanted to know how I was keeping, how Zarina was keeping, and she says to me, "You know, we really have a problem in our country. It seems our country is determined to destroy and remove from us any ability to have any heroes." I said, "Why do you say that?" She says, "Look what they've done to you, look what they're doing to others, you and JZ?" So I said, "But there other heroes." She said, "Like who?" She said, "We don't have Chris, we have Madiba, Walter is dead, but the only acceptable ones are the ones that are dead. How do we build a nation if there are no heroes, if we cannot encourage the idea that there should be heroes?" I said to her, "My dear, you are raising a tough question now."

POM     I would enjoin you to look at what Tutu wrote in Reflections in Prison about the role of memory.

POM     He wrote in what?

MM     In Reflections. Hold on.

POM     OK, I'll get it.

MM     He said, "Without memory it would be virtually impossible to learn. We could not learn from experience because experience is something remembered. I would forever have to start at the beginning not realising that a hot stove invariably burns a hand placed upon it. What I know is what I remember and that helps to make me who I am. Nations are built to share experiences, memories, a history. That is why people have often tried to destroy their enemies by destroying their histories and memories, that which gives them an identity. That is why new immigrants who want to become naturalised citizens of a new motherland are asked to appropriate significant portions of its history, its collective memories."

     Now that's Tutu in Reflections.

POM     That's before they jumped on him and said he was a right winger.

MM     Yes.

POM     And he said, "What's this about my history that I didn't learn?"

MM     And here is this. Even when I look at my introduction I talk about the role of history and reinterpretation constantly and how there will be hagiographers and all these things, but the exercise of rewriting as part of this process of nation building is crucial. But look what is happening, we are asked to cheapen the rewriting of history as if to say again it's a matter of equivalence, that if you mention an African hero you must now mention an Afrikaner hero, and very soon they're going to tell us that General de Wet was a hero.

POM     Who?

MM     General de Wet. Let them tell us. But wait a minute, in the name of nation building you have to acknowledge that General de Wet is a hero of the united South Africa, which is saying to us that memory is a trade-off too. But back to this lady, it was a very interesting point, totally embarrassing for me when she says to me, "It seems to me and many that I talk with and I socialise with, we think that there are forces at play that do not want us to have any heroes." And she was saying it not as in a race term that there are people who are whites who want this, she was saying it as there are comrades who want that position and they want it with the short-sightedness of their own power and yet they want it in the name of the larger enterprise of building a nation.

POM     OK. Speak to you tomorrow Mac. I sent one e-mail on that I have some questions in that you can put inserts and responses where you have them and then I will do these chapters tonight and I'll send them on to you so you can look at them tomorrow before we talk.

MM     Good.

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.