No head on the block until 2013

2012-02-04 15:47

John Block, Northern Cape ANC leader and Finance MEC, is likely to sail through the party’s provincial conference later this year and retain his position despite the fraud and racketeering charges against him.

That’s according to ANC and ANC Youth League sources in the province, who were speaking after the case against Block and several others was postponed until January in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.

Block is implicated in two separate cases involving alleged tender fraud linked to water purification equipment for government buildings in the province.

The second case against him was postponed to April next year in the province’s High Court. For now, it’s business as usual for Block.

Mafu Davids, spokesperson for Northern Cape Premier Hazel Jenkins, said the premier supported Block and his position as an MEC was not in jeopardy.

“Block is innocent until proven guilty and the Premier supports him and has full confidence in his abilities,” he said.

The provincial leader of the ANC Youth League in province, Shadrack Tlhaole, agreed.

His comments seemed at odds with an earlier call from the Youth League for a cabinet reshuffle in the province.
He said the call for a reshuffle was not aimed at any specific MEC and did not mean any specific MEC needed to be axed. “We are just asking for a general reshuffe,” said Tlhaole.

Pressed about Block’s future, Tlhaole said the League was supporting the troubled MEC and were confident he would be re-elected during the party’s provincial conference in September.

City Press spoke to several senior ANC members in the province who said they believed the charges against Block would not influence the provincial conference.

One source said there were rumours that the ANC’s provincial secretary, Zamane Saul, was going to go head-to-head against Block, but no official candidates had emerged.

Block and his former business partner, Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi, along with several others, face fraud and racketeering charges amounting to R112 million.

That case was postponed to 31 January 2013 in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court this week.

In the second case Block, Savoi, Patrick Lenyibi – the former mayor of the Sol Plaatjie district municipality – Frank Mashilo, the municipality’s former municipal manager and its former chief financial officer Nandipha Madiba are facing charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Municipal Finance Act.

These charges involve R2.7 million and were allegedly committed during April 2006.

At their appearance in the Northern Cape High Court on Thursday, Madiba told the court that she was not sure whether she was a State witness or an accused.

The matter was not discussed any further, and advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, the National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, did not respond to questions about Madiba’s status.

The case was postponed to April next year.

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