Embattled Block ‘first choice’ for premier

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IOL John block votes

Kimberley - The ANC in the Northern Cape is looking forward to appointing its provincial chairman John Block as the new premier.

ANC provincial secretary, Zamani Saul, said on Thursday that as the leader of the ANC in the province, it was fit for Block to also be the premier of the Northern Cape.

“He is the first choice of the branches and he should be tasked with the responsibility of leading government. The legacy of appointing a woman premier should not be seen as an obstacle.”

He said the provincial executive committee of the ANC would meet next week to decide on selecting three nominees for premier that would be forwarded for consideration by the party’s national executive committee.

Saul also said that Premier Sylvia Lucas had performed above average in her duties as the caretaker premier and that the ANC could consider extending her stay.

He added that there was nothing unusual about announcing their premier after the general elections.

“Even if Block is acquitted, he is also facing other fraud and corruption charges for the Intaka matter for the purchase of oxygen tanks and water purifiers in the province. We were not waiting for him to be acquitted in the Trifecta case so that we could announce him as the premier. We only have one face to represent the ANC in our campaigns and it is that of the President Jacob Zuma and the ANC emblem.”

Saul said he welcomed the overwhelming majority win in the Northern Cape but admitted that it was one of the toughest election battles in light of the corruption charges against three of its top structure members.

“We are hoping and praying for the acquittal and discharge of the three Bs (Block, ANC provincial deputy secretary Alvin Botes and ANC provincial treasurer Yolanda Botha) with regards to the Trifecta fraud and corruption charges.

“While we do take the charges seriously, we have explained to our voters that they have not been found guilty in a court of law. If they get acquitted it will be a double celebration.”

He, however, stated in the end the fear that though corruption was tarnishing the image of the ANC, it had not had a huge impact on their campaign.

“During our door-to-door visits, a few asked us about corruption and Zuma’s Nkandla residence. Most people on the ground are more concerned about houses, sanitation and service delivery. Only a few inquired about corruption and they accepted our explanation.”

Saul believed that the DA had run a decent election campaign where they had challenged them to improve their strategies.

“The disastrous collapse of Cope could have contributed to the increase in ANC support while the EFF is like a blown up balloon that will pop at any time.”

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