Cape Town – DA senior member JP Smith, the latest party member to be embroiled in a qualification scandal, campaigned using false qualifications at the party’s 2017 provincial congress where he was re-elected as DA Western Cape provincial deputy chairperson.
A booklet, seen by the Weekend Argus, which was given to delegates showed that Smith claimed that he had an honours degree in English from Stellenbosch University (SU).
The Weekend Argus exclusively revealed on Thursday that Smith’s biography, sent by his personal assistant to the Music Exchange conference organisers where he was a guest speaker in 2019, said he had an honours degree from SU.
The Weekend Argus also revealed that he did not complete his honours.
In 2018, Smith was part of 56 speakers in the 13-day Safer Western Cape conference which discussed ways to combat crime in the province, a subject Smith is familiar with as he has more than a decade’s experience working in the municipal’s safety and security portfolio.
His profile on the list said Smith has an honours degree. Smith quit studying as soon as he became fully active in politics.
DA Federal chairperson Helen Zille said she could not comment about the booklet as she was not an active member of the party in 2017. She had been suspended after tweeting that colonialism was not all bad.
“The matter (JP’s alleged misrepresentation of qualifications) has been referred to the legal commission for investigation. I have not seen the booklet as I was not active at the time due to my suspension. It is difficult for me to comment further,” said Zille.
Smith, who holds a number of titles in the DA, released a statement on Thursday saying he had always mentioned that his honours degree was incomplete.
“At some point, a clerical error was made in editing a bio by omitting the term ‘incomplete’ in relation to an incomplete honours in English postgraduate qualification. This error must have persisted for a while some years ago until a subsequent edit update corrected it,” he said.
A party insider said: “It is so sad this is happening to a Mayco member that is so competent and dedicated to the party but so was Bongi (Madikizela), yet he did the honourable thing. I think he (JP Smith) should follow the example.”
Wellington Radu from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) said a qualification that was left incomplete in the 90s could be picked up and completed in the 21st century.
“A person cannot pick up where he left. She/he will have to do the qualification from scratch. SAQA registers qualifications on the Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework for a period of three years. Universities have to review their curriculum every three years, depending on technology changes, economic changes, etc.
“SAQA does not approve any curriculum changes, this is done by the Council on Higher Education,” said Radu.