The following is a transcript of a wide-ranging interview between Alec Russell, News Editor of the Financial Times, and Mac Maharaj, former confidant of Nelson Mandela and until recently the spin-doctor of President Jacob Zuma. The interview, on Sunday June 7, covers the Nkandla controversy, the record of the ANC, the party’s succession battle and Africa’s ups and downs since the 1950s.
Mac Maharaj: When President Zuma visited me in hospital there was total excitement. Those nurses and staff who missed the occasion felt terribly aggrieved. But then I said to [my wife] Zarina that his presence, even the image, should have created negativity in some way. We found no evidence of that negativity. By the time I left there isn’t a single person in the entire ICU section of nursing staff from cleaner to nurses, which do not now show heightened warmth towards me. Now, the question arises, there is this one image of the President: how does it square with the dominant image presented by many of the opinion-makers?