High court asked to halt Mahlobo‚ Ekom’s ‘rushed’ nuclear deal

High Court asked to stop Energy Minister David Mahlobo's 'rushed' nuclear deal.
High Court asked to stop Energy Minister David Mahlobo's 'rushed' nuclear deal.
Image: TREVOR SAMSON

The energy minister and energy parastatal could be in contempt of court if nuclear plans go ahead

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said in a statement on Friday they had approached the high court to ask for an order to stay the process.

Last week the same NGOs sent a request to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Energy Minister David Mahlobo‚ as well as the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa)‚ asking for a commitment to following legal processes and allowing public consultation on proposed nuclear deals.

They had not responded to the request by Wednesday‚ the statement said. Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala said: “We are part of an international movement against dirty nuclear energy‚ where we have seen governments enter into nuclear deals that are not in the interests of their people. That must not happen in South Africa.”

According to Earthlife Africa‚ Mahlobo’s recent “utterances in the press” suggested that the finalisation of the integrated resource plan and the nuclear programme was being fast-tracked.

“Yet government has failed to implement the necessary public participation required by the court judgement that was delivered on 26 April 2017.”

The NGOs will ask the court to declare that:

• No steps‚ including the issuing of Request for Proposals or Request for Information‚ may be taken for the procurement of new electricity generation capacity‚ derived from nuclear power.

• Steps may not be taken in the absence of a lawful determination in terms of s34 of the Electricity Regulation Act‚ in concurrence of Nersa‚ following a procedurally fair public participation process. “This determination would have to specify that new nuclear energy electricity generation is needed‚ and what percentage of South Africa’s energy mix it would fulfil.”

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has also indicated that the country may not be able to afford the nuclear programme‚ which is estimated will cost upwards of R1-trillion.

The court will also be asked to direct Mahlobo and Eskom to provide written reports on what steps they have and plan to take on plans for nuclear power.

Should evidence exist they had taken steps to forge ahead with nuclear‚ the court will be asked to declare Mahlobo and Eskom in contempt of court for violating the April court order.

“We cannot have unaccountable government”‚ said Liz McDaid of the faith communities’ institute. “We have now seen overwhelming evidence emerging into the public arena that shows how state institutions have been captured and how money that is meant to deliver services to South Africans has gone into the pockets of looters.”

“The nuclear deal‚ purportedly worth over R1 trillion‚ is yet another one of these deals. South Africa cannot afford‚ nor does it need new nuclear power generation capacity. I think South Africans have had enough.”

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