DA’s Limpopo elective conference canned over fraud claims against Jacques Smalle
Pretoria - The DA has postponed the Limpopo elective conference scheduled for this weekend following allegations of fraud and tax evasion against Jacques Smalle, the incumbent provincial leader who sought re-election.
Some of the revelations include that the party failed to act on allegations of abusing party funds levelled against him.
Smalle, who was set to face off with DA MP and former party national spokesperson Solly Malatsi, is accused of possible tax fraud after an investigation by the DA Federal Legal Commission.
The Pretoria News can reveal that the commission found that Smalle allegedly avoided paying tax on his travel allowances by arranging for the money to be paid into the bank account of a third party.
The DA provincial office will be placed under administration for now until the investigations are completed, the party said.
Smalle could not be reached for comment as his phone was off yesterday.
DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube confirmed the party had called off the Limpopo conference but was cagey about whether the decision had anything to do with allegations against Smalle.
“The DA federal executive, acting on the advice of the presiding officers of the Limpopo congress, has resolved to cancel the congress until information which has emerged and the allegations which have been levelled are adequately investigated by the federal legal commission due to the fact that the term of the current leadership is set to lapse on Saturday.
“The federal executive has appointed an administrator to manage the affairs of the province until a new congress is convened and a new leadership team is elected,” Gwarube said.
The Federal Legal Commission report said in part: “The concern is not so much the use of the third-party bank account, but rather the intent and reasoning behind requesting such an account to be opened. In addition to this, stipends of any nature that relate to travel and subsistence must be paid via payroll as it is additional income from work responsibilities. If sufficient records are kept for expenses then submitting a tax return would not be of concern.”
Malatsi said that while he was disappointed about the postponement of the conference, he understood the reasons behind the decision.
The MP added that he accepted the decision of the DA top brass because “we have trust in the process to do the right thing”.
“We were ready for the conference. I was ready for Saturday and we were confident. But like I say, right now it’s just for us to respect the party’s processes. Our processes work and we have trust in our processes to do what our processes always do,” he said.
“The postponement is disappointing because we were ready. But it’s a decision that I accept, and the entire province also respects.”
All the top five positions were also up for grabs at the conference scheduled for Saturday, which was expected to be won by close margins. Smalle and Malatsi were vying for the position of Limpopo DA provincial leader, Modimolle/Mookgophong mayor Marlene van Staden and councillor Marie Helm were contenders for the position of provincial deputy leader, while party veteran and DA MP Desiree Van de Walt was challenging incumbent Jeffrey Tshibvumo for the position of provincial chairperson.
Four candidates were contesting for the two positions of deputy provincial chairperson. They are Limpopo MPL Susan Phala, Vhembe councillor Glenda Furumele, Polokwane councillor David Setjie and Ba-Phalaborwa councillor Johanna Mphopho.
A DA member said the contest between Smalle and Malatsi was expected to be close. “With the DA it’s different because there is no block voting. People vote individually. But people are people and they influence each other. It was going to be very very close. Sometimes you take into consideration the lie factor, people saying they were going to vote for so and so and at the end of the day they don’t,” the source said.
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo said the cancellation was the most appropriate action the party could take under the circumstances. “Postponing a congress for any party is circumstantial depending on policies of the organisation. In this case they can’t consider it prudent but they were fair to Smalle. They didn’t prejudice him but did not allow him to stand with a cloud hanging over him.”