By Andrew Louw MPL, DA Provincial Leader:
The DA is concerned that the appointment of the Mayor of ZF Mgcawu district, Gift Van Staden, as a replacement MPL for John Block, who was recently found guilty on charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, will keep Block’s business interests in government alive.
Van Staden’s appointment has set off alarm bells that Block’s physical removal from the Northern Cape government will do little to eradicate the provincial administration from Block’s corrupt legacy issues.
Van Staden, who hails from Block’s hometown of Upington, has strong business ties and a long history with Block.
Van Staden is Block’s business partner at a controversial salt mining company which is currently embroiled in a legal battle pertaining to the alleged forgery of mining permits.
There are also allegations that Block benefitted from his friendship and business links with Van Staden, when he served as mayor of //Khara Hais municipality in Upington, to land a leasehold deal for two prime municipal properties in as far back as 2003.According to a Mail & Guardian report, Block’s R160 000 debt on these two properties was cancelled five years later by the //Khara Hais municipal council after the council passed a motion exempting him from further rental payments.
The decision to deploy Van Staden to provincial government speaks volumes about who is still pulling the strings in both the provincial ANC and in provincial government.
The DA is on high alert and we will intensify our campaign to probe Block’s legacy issues in government, including his lease of state-owned farm Taaiboschdraai, in an attempt to stop Block from gaining any further benefit from taxpayers’ money.
The DA has today written a letter of concern to Premier Sylvia Lucas to provide adequate justification to the people of the Northern Cape as to why Van Staden was sworn in as an MPL, given the allegations against him.
The DA will not tolerate Van Staden being used as a mediator between Block and the government – the strings of the puppet master must be cut.