Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe delivering the department of energy budget vote. Photo: Supplied by GCIS.
JOHANNESBURG - Mineral  Resources and Energy  Minister Gwede Mantashe urgently needs to appoint a new board at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa)   after the North Gauteng High Court on Friday ruled that former Energy Minister Jeff Radebe’s axing of the previous board was unlawful.

The court on Friday also set aside Radebe’s decision to axe former board chairman Kelvin Kemm, former chief executive Phumzile Tshelane and former chair of the audit and compliance subcommittee, Pam Bosman  in  December 2018.

The court decision weighs heavily on Necsa, whose subsidiary NTP Radioisotopes, is an international supplier of nuclear medicine to detect and treat cancer as it means decisions taken by the board stand to be reviewed.

Radebe axed the board citing serious governance and a lack of effective oversight over the company and its subsidiaries. He also dissolved the board following what he said was a series of acts of defiance placing   NTP Radioisotopes, at risk of losing its global market share.

He appointed a new board, including Rob Adam as the new chairperson and Don Robertson as interim chief executive. Adam quit last month, just seven months in the position.

Asked for comment, Kemm said yesterday said the court ruling was a relief as it has found his board was guiding Necsa in a direction which was in the interests of the country and of corporate profitability.

"It was extremely upsetting to have been confronted by the former minister and informed that he was conducting discussions with a foreign company with a view to selling a 'substantial portion' of our profitable division to them, but had not consulted me or the Group CEO ".

"I have been proud of the incredible achievements of Necsa staff who for some years have worked 24 hours a day seven days a week to export life-saving medicine daily to countries around the world," Kemm said.

Radebe allegedly held secret talks to sell NTP Radioisotopes to US-based Lantheus Medical Imaging (LMI), a global leader in the field of diagnostic imaging, according to a source close to the entity.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu)  the largest public-sector union in the country on Friday called on Mantashe to sack   the current Necsa Board and institute a full-blown investigation on the intellectual property of Necsa which had "found its way into private hands without any benefit to Necsa and whether there are no deliberate acts of sabotage taking place in the organization".

The union further called on   Mantashe to interrogate the role played by his officials at his department in engineering this unlawful conduct.

Nehawu was scathing saying the judgment vindicated its long held position as the union that  Radebe had been nothing “but a disaster” to the nuclear industry in general and Necsa in particular. 

“His intervention at Necsa was not in the interest of the organization and South Africa at large but appears more to advance his own agenda and those of a clique pursuing self-interest,” Nehawu said.

It added Radebe had meddled with corporate governance when he among others undermined the Necsa board and directed that it's subsidiary NTP Radioisotopes report to him directly. 

“It is also therefore no coincident that the board he appointed in December 2018 embarked on a misguided path to retrench 400 employees, planned to sell some parts of Necsa and were reversing the transformation gains achieved through the years,” said Nehawu.

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