Update: Tuesday 22, from EWN:
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj on Tuesday said he firmly believes that a society without a free media will not be able to have rational debates.Stop paying lip service to media freedom when your party is
He addressed the National Press Club in Pretoria amid claims that he received bribes during the arms deal.
Maharaj had said it would be illegal for the Mail&Guardian newspaper to publish documents relating to a Section 28 inquiry held in 2001.
He said his position was very clear.
“I have maintained the view that I have been not involved in any bribery, corruption and in the awarding of those two tenders and that’s my consistent position,” he said.
In its original 2007 article, City Press reported that Maharaj and his wife had told the Scorpions, among other details, that they had no offshore bank accounts in Switzerland; and had received no money from Schabir Shaik, or his companies. However, this flies in the face of investigative work by City Press, as well as the Sunday Times and the M&G, showing that money was paid from French weapons manufacturer Thompson (now Thales) into Zarina Maharaj's Swiss bank account, via none other than Shaik.It all becomes a lot clearer: he's blustering to cover his arse, and he should be fired for bringing the Presidency into disrepute, along with his boss.
Maharaj, meanwhile, speaking to the National Press Club on Tuesday, said: “I have maintained the view that I have not been involved in any bribery, corruption, and in the awarding of those two tenders. That's my consistent position. It doesn't change.” The tenders refer to the R2.5 billion N3 toll road tender; and the R265 million credit-card driver's licence tender, both of which were awarded when Maharaj was the minister of transport. A company owned by Shaik was part of the consortium that won the former tender, while Thales benefited from the latter.
Throughout the last ten days, Maharaj has consistently refused to answer the question of whether he lied to the Scorpions. It's probably advisable that he doesn't comment on this unless or until he is forced to – lying to a Section 28 inquiry is a criminal offence, and he could face 15 years in prison.