There have already been attempts in some quarters to portray the latest revelations about ANC MP Vincent Smith as some sort of “fightback” against the expropriation of land without compensation policy.
That is because Smith is the head of the parliamentary constitutional review committee, which is looking at the amendment of section 25 of the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
The accusation of a campaign against expropriation is nothing but a red herring.
Smith definitely has questions to answer about his relationship with Bosasa, a company which does billions of rands of business with the government.
Not only does Bosasa, a facilities manager, do business with government, but it does a lot of work for the department of correctional services.
Last week, Smith was appointed to chair the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services and he has served as a member of the standing committee on public accounts.
The DA claimed Smith had been receiving regular payments from Bosasa and that the company paid for a high-end security system and fences at Smith’s house.
Smith said he paid for the upgrades himself, but disclosed he had taken R615 000 in loans from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson over two years. These were for his daughter’s university tuition, Smith claimed.
Smith said his interest in the company had been “fully declared” in the register of members’ interests in parliament. He did not say whether he declared the loans. Nor did he reveal the repayment terms.
He has stepped aside – after consulting his ANC colleagues in the wake of reports about the relationship with Bosasa.
But the questions – at minimum, a conflict of interest, at worst possible corruption – still remain.