Northern Cape ANC chairperson and finance MEC John Block will remain in his powerful positions for now, despite the high court judgment that on Wednesday found him guilty of corruption, fraud and money laundering.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday that the party was in no hurry to take action against Block and that it would wait until the court passes sentence against him.
Block was accused alongside Trifecta Holdings chief executive Christo Scholtz and Northern Cape social development minister Alvin Botes in the multimillion-rand fraud, corruption and money laundering case. Block and Botes were accused of receiving kickbacks from Scholtz between 2006 and 2010 in return for influencing provincial departments directly or indirectly to rent office space at inflated rates in Trifecta’s favour, and paying for a bigger space than actually leased.
Block and Scholtz were found guilty, but Botes, who is an ANC deputy provincial secretary, was found not guilty of all charges. The fourth accused, former head of department for social development Yolanda Botha, reportedly died in December after being diagnosed with skin cancer that later spread to her brain.
Mantashe said the party would wait until Block was sentenced before it could decide on the way forward.
“It’s simple. That’s the court judgment. It will be correct to wait for sentencing before we can decide what to do. We can only act when we have the whole picture and understand the full impact,” said Mantashe.
But ANC integrity committee chair and struggle veteran Andrew Mlangeni said the committee would discuss the matter of Block when it meets over the coming weekend.
The ANC’s national general council held at Gallagher Estate in Midrand last weekend gave the integrity commission more teeth to deal with ANC members and leaders whose conduct brings the organisation into disrepute. Instead of simply making a recommendation that requires approval by the national executive committee, the commission will now have the power to make a final decision on cases brought against it.
“We are meeting this coming weekend and this matter [the judgment against Block] will come up during discussions,” said Mlangeni.
This will not be the first time the integrity committee discusses the Block issue. Last year it recommended his removal from all positions within the party, but the national executive committee (NEC) ignored its recommendation.
Asked if he was disappointed that the NEC had ignored the committee’s earlier recommendation, Mlangeni said: “Our job was to make a recommendation. We are not disappointed that the recommendation was not carried. There was nothing we could do about it. We are happy now that we have been given powers to make decisions against ANC members who bring the party into disrepute,” said Mlangeni.
Mantashe said the Block matter did not belong to the ANC’s integrity committee but the courts. ANC Northern Cape secretary Zamani Saul said he was excited that Botes was found not guilty, he was saddened that Block was found guilty.
He said he believed Block’s legal team would study the judgment and lodge an appeal. He said the provincial structure would be guided by Luthuli House on what to do going forward.
“We will inform Luthuli House about the developments. We will be guided by the SG [secretary general]. It will be premature for me to pronounce on what needs to happen [to Block].”