Jackson Mthembu to quiz Vincent Smith over alleged Bosasa payments

The ANC has pledged its confidence in MP Vincent Smith to continue on in his important roles in Parliament, but the party’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu is set to meet with Smith to discuss allegations that the high profile MP received undue payments from facilities management company Bosasa.

At the weekend Smith was reported to have received at least R670 000 over three years from the company, now called African Global Operations.

An article in City Press on Sunday first broke news of the alleged payment and further claimed that Smith had accepted a security upgrade of electric fencing and a high-end CCTV system worth R200 000 at his home. It went on to add that Smith received R100 000 in cash from Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson every month.

Both Smith And Bosasa have denied the monthly payments, but the long-standing MP did confirm that he received some of the payments as a “personal loan” for his daughter’s university fees.

He said he was led to believe that the payments came from former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi — who Smith referred to as a “brother” — and not the company.

Mthembu has reacted to the allegations with “concern” and is set to ask Smith to explain what happened.

However, ANC parliamentary spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli said that Smith is to remain in his new position as chairperson of parliament’s justice portfolio committee.

“The chief whip will meet with comrade Smith to get to the bottom of the matter. However, these are treated as allegations that need to be tested and do not alter the confidence the organisation has in him in his newly appointed position of chair of the justice committee,” Mhlauli said on Monday.

Smith is also the chairperson of the constitutional review committee that has been tasked with looking into amending the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

The Democratic Alliance has threatened to haul Smith over to Parliament’s ethics committee for failing to declare a potential conflict of interest. Smith was a member of the standing committee on public accounts and chaired the correctional services committee when the alleged payments took place. In both these roles, he would have had oversight over Bosasa, who has secured contracts with several government departments worth over R10 billion, including the Department of Correctional Services, according to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.

“This amounts to unethical conduct, especially since he had not declared any such benefit in the Register of Members’ Interests. The DA has perused the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Declaration of Members Interests and the payments, nor the alleged installation of CCTV equipment, appear on the declarations as would be required in terms of the Code [of Ethics],” Steenhuisen said in a statement.

Steenhuisen said his party’s complaint into Smith’s conduct is still being finalised by his office.

“The charges [are being] set out and will be lodged today,” he said on Monday.

Mthembu’s meeting with Smith is set to take place as soon as possible.

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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