THE Chief Parliamentary Officer at the provincial legislature has resigned after working for the institution since in 1994.

Herlu Smith has now joined the Office of the Premier (OTP) as Chief State Law Adviser, a position previously held by Zoleka Fanana in an acting capacity. The position was left vacant in 2009 by Advocate Perry Beningfield.

Opposition parties have described his move as a great loss while legislature speaker Fikile Xasa described Smith as a “source of inspiration and wisdom to many”.

He said Smith had played a significant role in the legislature since becoming a staff member in 1994. “Many who have worked with him can attest that his leadership, diligence, legal knowledge and his passion for constitutional democracy has helped to build a thriving and credible legislature,” he said.

Smith started working as the Head of Committees in 1994 and later became the institution’s senior legal adviser. He told the Daily Dispatch that the reason behind his departure from the legislature was to “possibly serve the province as a whole”.

He now heads the shared legal services unit at the OTP.

Bobby Stevenson of the Democratic Alliance said Smith’s departure was a great loss to the legislature.

“He has played a critical and a dedicated role in ensuring that the legislature operates in an efficient manner,” he said.

The UDM’S Jackson Bici said Smith would leave a lasting legacy. “He has had a wonderful contribution to the institution. Herlu was very patient, and he worked well with members.”

COPE’S Mbulelo Ntenjwa praised Smith’s efficiency and his fairness when dealing with political parties. “He was really resourceful, even at the time when I was the speaker of council in Mnquma Municipality. We’d call him for his legal opinion on our council. When I joined the legislature, I discovered he was apolitical – always willing to help any member regardless of the political party they belonged to.

“He wanted to ensure the functionality of the legislature.” — abongilem@dispatch.co.za