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Mac Maharaj

Sathyandranath Ragunanan "Mac" Maharaj (born 22 April 1935 in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal) is a South African politician affiliated with the African National Congress, academic and businessman of Indian origin. He is the current official spokesperson of the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

Involvement in the Struggle against apartheid

Maharaj was a political activist and member of the South African Communist Party,[1] who worked in a clandestine manner on anti-apartheid activities with Nelson Mandela.[2] In July 1964, Maharaj was arrested in Johannesburg, charged and convicted with four others on charges of sabotage in the little Rivonia trial, and was imprisoned on Robben Island with Mandela.[2] In prison he secretly transcribed Mandela's memoir Long Walk to Freedom and smuggled it out of the prison in 1976.[3]

During his time in prison, Maharaj completed a B.Admin, an MBA and the second year of a B.Sc degree before his release on 8 December 1976.[2]

After being released from the Robben Island prison in 1976, Maharaj was deployed by the ANC to Zambia in 1977. He was elected to the National Executive Committee of the ANC in 1985. From 1988 to 1990 Maharaj worked underground in South Africa as part of the ANC's Operation Vula, which was a project to infiltrate the ANC's top leaders back into South Africa. During this time Maharaj worked with Schabir Shaik's two brothers, Yunis Shaik and Moe Shaik, also members of the ANC. Maharaj reported to the then ANC intelligence chief Jacob Zuma.[4]

Role in government

He was post-1994 South Africa's first Minister of Transport, a post he took on 11 May 1994 and kept until the general election of 1999.[2]

Private Sector

After the national elections of 1999, Mac Maharaj stepped down from politics and joined FirstRand Bank and was its highest paid non-executive director.[5]


In February 2003 the South African newspaper, The Sunday Times, published allegations that Mac Maharaj and his wife Zarina had received more than R500,000 between May 1998 and February 1999 from a businessman, Schabir Shaik, who had shared in two multi-million rand contracts awarded by the Ministry of Transport whilst Maharaj was Minister.[6] In August 2003 Maharaj resigned from FirstRand Bank following the media furor around the allegations of corruption.[7]

In March 2007 the South African newspaper, City Press, published allegations that Maharaj’s wife Zarina opened a Swiss bank account in 1996, and two days after opening it, received over $100,000 into the account from Schabir Shaik. Six months later, in March 1997, the same Swiss account received a further $100,000 from Schabir Shaik.[8]

On 6 July 2011 he was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as his Spokesperson with immediate effect.

In November 2011 the South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian attempted to publish further allegations about both Mac and Zarina Maharaj, in relation to their interviews by prosecutors in 2003, but did not do so after Mac Maharaj laid criminal charges against the newspaper for allegedly infringing the laws protecting the secrecy of the 2003 prosecutor interviews.[9]

Maharaj has never been charged by South African prosecutors supposedly because it would have been difficult to prove that Maharaj had corrupt intentions when he and his wife received money from Schabir Shaik.[4]

Academic affiliations

In 2005, he joined the faculty of Bennington College in Vermont, USA.


  • "You don't have to carry a gun to be a freedom fighter."[10]
  • "Revenge should not be our motivation."[10]


  1. ^ biography of MAC MAHARAJ
  2. ^ a b c d "Satyandranath "Mac" Ragunanan Maharaj". January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  3. ^ Mac Maharaj and Zoe Daniel, 14 November 2006, ABC Melbourne, Retrieved on 25 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b STEFAANS BRüMMER & SAM SOLE (25 November 2011). "The evidence that damns Mac". Mail & Guardian Online. 
  5. ^ Mac Maharaj to resign from FirstRand, Retrieved on 22 November 2011.
  6. ^ NICKOLAUS BAUER (22 November 2011). "Mac Maharaj and controversy: A timeline". Mail & Guardian Online. 
  7. ^ Maureen Isaacson (10 August 2003). "Mac Maharaj to resign from FirstRand". iol News. 
  8. ^ MAKHUDU SEFARA (24 March 2007). "Mac’s foreign stash". City Press. 
  9. ^ LIONEL FAULL (19 November 2011). "Maharaj targets M&G's Brümmer and Sole". Mail & Guardian Online. 
  10. ^ a b Empowerment Radio with Tunde Obazee KNON 89.3 FM Dallas, Tx - Live Broadcast 23 Oct. 2006

External links

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