Maharaj shrugs off bribe claims
Johannesburg - Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has shrugged off allegations that he and his wife Zarina received millions of rands from French arms company Thales.
Maharaj on Sunday said the Sunday Times, despite publishing an extensive report over two pages, had not found the space to publish his three-sentence e-mailed response to the paper in full.
Instead, it had selected parts of his response for publication, and this had consciously limited the public's awareness of what he had said.
"The fact that the Scorpions did not bring any charges against either of us should make you alive to the fact that the reported insinuations and allegations of unlawful conduct by us implied in your questions may once again result in, and subject us to character assassination and trial by media consciously making use of selective information only," Maharaj stated in his reply to the Sunday Times.
"These issues belong to matters that were investigated by the Scorpions.
"Neither Zarina Maharaj nor I are prepared to subject ourselves to a separate and additional investigation by a member of the media based on isolated aspects of a comprehensive investigation conducted by institutions established and empowered by law to do so," he stated.
The Democratic Alliance has since called on President Jacob Zuma to suspend Maharaj without delay.
Stuart Farrow, the DA's spokesperson on transport, said he would ask the public protector to investigate the allegations.
According to the Sunday Times report secret payments totalling 1.2 million French francs (R3.2m) were paid into Zarina's offshore bank accounts shortly before Thales was awarded a R265 million tender by the department of transport, which Mac Maharaj headed at the time.
The payments were made via Swiss bank accounts belonging to Schabir Shaik's company Minderley Investments, which the newspaper said was used as a conduit by Thales and its predecessor Thompson CSF.
Shaik, Zuma's former financial advisor, was convicted of corruption in 2005.
According to the newspaper, it had obtained a copy of a consultancy agreement between Thompson CSF and Minderley Investments, which had never before been disclosed.
"It is believed the Scorpions were unable to obtain this agreement, and that this ultimately torpedoed their corruption investigation into Maharaj in 2007," the newspaper reported.