ANC accepts Vincent Smith 'stepping aside' as chair of committees

MP will continue to serve as an ordinary member of committees he is on

ANC accepts Vincent Smith 'stepping aside' as chair of committees

13 September 2018

The political committee of the ANC's parliamentary caucus has accepted a request by senior MP Vincent Smith to step aside as chairperson of three committees.

"Last week, comrade Smith requested the leadership of the ANC caucus to allow him to step aside from chairing any parliamentary committee until the investigation into allegations against him which have surfaced in the public domain have been concluded by the ethics committee," the office of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said.

"The political committee welcomed and agreed to grant comrade Smith permission to step aside from chairing any portfolio committee until the finalisation of this case. Having allowed him to step aside as chairperson, he will remain an ordinary member of all committees he is a member of."

This followed a report by News24 earlier this month that Smith received cash and benefits to the tune of R870 000 from Bosasa in 2015 and 2016 through Angelo Agrizzi, then chief operations officer at Bosasa.At the time, Smith was a former chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on correctional services that investigated Bosasa's involvement in alleged corruption relating to state tenders.

News24 reported that Smith allegedly accepted the installation of electric fences and a high-end CCTV system worth roughly R200 000 at his home, and allegedly also received R100 000 in cash from Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson every month.

When asked when the investigation into Smith will be conducted, the ethics committee told News24: "The committee is currently dealing with complaints lodged with the committee before Mr Smith's complaint. The committee will deal with the complaint against Mr Smith as soon as it has concluded with other cases already before it."

Operation Clean-up

CCTV footage - captured by the same system allegedly installed by Bosasa - shows three men believed to be employees of a Bosasa subsidiary company, Sondolo IT, arriving at Smith's home on January 10, 2018, and removing the cameras.

Sources close to the matter told News24 that when current Bosasa directors became aware of former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi's intention to blow the whistle, they scrambled to remove their systems from Smith and other individuals' homes.

Internally it was branded "Operasie Skoonmaak" (Operation Clean Up), News24 understands.

One of the clips obtained by News24 shows Smith in his garden on December 22, 2017, just weeks before the "clean-up" team apparently arrived.

Smith confirmed it was him in the footage and confirmed that Bosasa employees had assisted him to "upgrade" his existing system.He then said he had nothing to add when News24 contacted him on Tuesday and informed him that the footage would be published. Smith was shown the footage on Saturday.

Interim chairs

The ANC announced several interim chairs for the committees.

Stanford Maila will be the acting co-chairperson of the constitutional review committee on land expropriation, while Madipoane Mothapo will be the acting chair of the justice and correctional services committee, and Nthabiseng Khunou the acting chair of the standing committee on the auditor-general.