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Nuclear deal back on the agenda, says minister

Politics
Cape Town – Energy Minister Mammoloko Kubayi has confirmed the nuclear deal is back on the agenda.

Kubayi said this on Saturday after she announced she would not appeal the Western Cape High Court decision to halt the nuclear process.

She would instead stick to the judgment by following all the processes in the procurement of nuclear power.

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Police stand behind members of Earthlife Africa, the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute and other organisations protesting outside the Western Cape High Court before the ruling against the government’s proposed nuclear deal. Picture: EPA

She said South Africa needed nuclear power as part of the energy mix programme of the government.

Kubayi said the process would start from scratch.

From next month, new, standardised agreements would be signed with Russia, China, the US, South Korea and France.

This came after the court nullified three of the agreements last month.

Kubayi said the government couldn’t estimate the cost of nuclear power, but the process would start from scratch.

“We have to start fresh and do new determinations and issue requests for information.

“That is important because it will assist us on the cost.”

However, the government’s push for a nuclear programme has been questioned, with opposition parties warning of high costs and threats of legal action if proper processes are not followed.

The court halted the nuclear programme last month, saying processes had not been followed.

The DA, IFP and ACDP said the government had not come clean regarding the costs.

One of the civil society groups that took the government to court on the nuclear deal said on Saturday it would keep an eye on the process. The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said it wanted Kubayi to follow the law.

Co-ordinator for energy and climate programme at the institute Liz McDaid said it wanted to ensure everything was done according to the book.

“We are glad the minister has chosen to follow the law because the previous process was found to be illegal. We will need to study whatever steps she puts on the table.

“If they are going to follow the process, it will show we don’t need nuclear. Today we have organisations like the CSIR (the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) who say that we don’t need nuclear. It is research institutions who say these are the numbers,” said McDaid.

DA spokesperson on energy Gordon Mackay said the party welcomed the fact that Kubayi would follow the process.

However, the party was concerned the government was intent on pushing ahead, despite concerns about costs.

Mackay said the decision was not sound if it was not based on the Integrated Resource Plan of 2016. He warned the party would interdict the minister if she started the process without the plan.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh also expressed concern about the costs. He said nuclear was unaffordable for South Africa at this stage and the government would have to prove in Parliament that nuclear was affordable.

Steve Swart, of the ACDP, said the party was concerned that nuclear was unaffordable for the country.

“The ACDP notes that Minister Kubayi has decided not to appeal the Western Cape High Court decision. This means she will have to comply with the stringent process set out by the court regarding openness and transparency and the role of Parliament in evaluating the desirability and costing of the nuclear project,” he said.”

Political Bureau

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