A former senior civil servant has told The Rand Daily Mail he has documentary proof of secret projects he carried out for South Africa that he says involved "transfer of money" to Western politicians and labor unions, the paper reported today.
The story follows a newspaper report Sunday that the former official, Eschel Rhoodie, who has left the country after once being among its most powerful and influential men, knowns of alleged contributions of South African government money to campaign funds of some U.S. politicians in an effort by the isolated government to win friends in Washington.
Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha has ordered an investigation to determine if his Cabinet ministers knew of any irregularities in the government's Department of Infermation when Rhoodie was information secretary. His office had no comment on today's report.
Although Rhoodie has threatened repeatedly over the past several weeks to reveal what he knows about government secret projects, the Mail said today he had decided not to release that information "at this stage." Rhoodie's vacillation is raising suspicions about the validity of a multimillon dollar campaign to win acceptance of its apartheld policy and "neutralize" its most vocal critics.
As information secretary, Rhoodie directed that campaign from 1974 to 1979.
Some observers feel Rhoodie's so far unproven allegations may be a ploy to discredit the government in retaliation for making him what he termed a "scapegoat" in a political scandal presenting the ruling National Party with its most critical domestic crisis in the last 30 years.
Last December a government-appointed commission of inquiry named Rhoodie as one of those responsible for the secret "propaganda war" and blamed him for financial abuses that arose in its implementation.
Botha announced Friday that the government has brought charges of fraud and theft against Rhoodie, who is somewhere in Europe. The authorities are seeking his extradition back to South Africa, a police official said.
"It is true," Rhoodie told the Mail, "that some of the secret projects involved major political figures in more than one Western country and that money was involved.
"Projects concerning labor unions were also undertaken, involving the transfer of money. Some African states were involved too, but I want to emphasize they did not include any of the West African states that participated with South Africa in the detente exercise. [President John] Vorster knew of all these projects," Rhoodie is quoted as saying.
Detente was the name for South Africa's attempt in 1975 and 1976 to set up normal diplomatic relations with black African states.