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Sathyandranath Ragunanan “Mac” Maharaj

The Order of Luthuli in

Sathyandranath Ragunanan “Mac” Maharaj Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa. Inspired by the courage of his convictions he bravely endured the fight against the racial autocracy of the oppressive apartheid regime over many years and helped lay the foundations of a non-racial democracy.
Profile of Mr Sathyandranath Ragunanan “Mac” Maharaj

Mr Sathyandranath Ragunanan “Mac” Maharaj was born on 22 April 1935 in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. He is a seasoned politician, communicator and businessman. Maharaj  served South Africa with steadfast commitment. In 1964, Maharaj was arrested in Johannesburg, charged and convicted with four others on charges of sabotage. He was imprisoned on Robben Island with former President Nelson Mandela.

During his time in prison, Maharaj completed a Bachelor of Administration and MBA degrees, and also completed two years of a Bachelor of Science degree before his release on 8 December 1976. On his release, Maharaj was served with a five-year banning order prohibiting him from leaving his home. The African National Congress (ANC) deployed him to Zambia in 1977. His wife had left the country in 1974 on an exit permit and was living in London.

Maharaj was elected to serve in the ANC National Executive Committee at the 1985 Kabwe Conference. He worked underground within South Africa as part of Operation Vula from 1987 to 1990. Following the unbanning of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP), he had to leave the country and re-enter legally under the general amnesty programme, agreed upon between the ANC and the government. On his return, he assisted in the organisation and restructuring of the SACP.

At the ANC’s national congress held in Durban in July 1991, Maharaj became a member of the secretariat of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, which brought together most South African political organisations to negotiate a new constitutional dispensation. After the 1994 elections Maharaj was appointed to the Cabinet, where he served as Minister of Transport until 1999.

He returned to active service during the fifth government administration as special advisor and spokesperson to the President of the Republic. Maharaj has retired from active politics.