Shadow MEC Danville Smith latest ANC member to step aside in face of corruption charges
On Thursday, the ANC member of the Western Cape provincial legislature, announced he would ‘step aside voluntarily with immediate effect’ after appearing in court.
Danville Smith, the ANC’s shadow MEC for local government, has stepped aside from his “duties and responsibilities” as regional treasurer of the ANC in the West Coast, but says he still officially retained the elected position.
“Given that I am a loyal member of the ANC and in the face of these politically-driven charges, I have decided to step aside voluntarily with immediate effect,” said Smith, who has served as the treasurer of the ANC in the West Coast region for the past nine years.
“I have written to the provincial coordinator and convenor of the Interim Provincial Committee of the ANC to inform them of my decision,” he said at a media briefing.
Smith said he will “remain a member of the provincial legislature representing the ANC” and will continue to attend legislature sittings and committee meetings, but will not participate.
The party’s provincial convener, Lerumo Kalako confirmed this, telling Daily Maverick: “ A person who [appears] in court, who’s stepping aside will continue earning from that position, will continue to do necessary work of the committee … but will not speak in any debate”. Smith will no longer be a party spokesperson, or the face of the ANC in the legislature, added Kalako.
Smith’s announcement comes after he appeared on charges of corruption in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court on 9 April this year, in the midst of the ongoing Hawks investigation into irregularities at the Cederberg municipality.
Daily Maverick reported that the issue related to food parcels which were paid for and never delivered on Mandela Day in 2016, during the time when Smith held the position as Speaker of the Cederberg municipality, said Hawks spokesperson, Zinzi Hani.
Following his appearance in court, Smith, who was released on a warning, is due to return to court on 19 May.
Smith has since denied the allegations and said: “I am innocent of these charges. They are false. I will never engage nor condone acts of corruption.”
There is “little doubt” that the corruption charges “are politically driven and are part of a plot to paint the ANC as corrupt,” he added.
However, Smith said he welcomes the opportunity “to clear [his] name in a court of law”.
“Up until now, I have been a loyal member of the African National Congress and remain one in good-standing,” said Smith.
Smith is the latest ruling party politician to step aside from his position, following President Ramaphosa’s announcement in March that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC had given those members charged with corruption 30 days to step aside from their positions or face suspension. The decision directly implicated the suspended ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule and ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who has taken leave from parliament. (See Paradox of ‘stepped-aside’ – ANC legislators still required in the House to vote, but not to speak). DM
This article was updated at 4.15pm to add comment from Lerumo Kalako.