CAPE TOWN - A court challenge to block the South African government from rushing through a nuclear procurement deal was postponed on Wednesday after Energy Minister David Mahlobo agreed to follow proper process.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA-JHB) and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) in April won a Cape Town high order stating that nuclear procurment would not be legal without involving the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) and public participation.
"SAFCEI and ELA came back to court to ask the minsiter of Energy and Eskom to agree to abide by the court ruling we got in April which said that they may not procure nuclear energy without proper process and that includes involving all of us - public participation - in the decision-making process," SAFCEI executive director Francesca de Gasparis said.
An integrated resource plan, which spells out South Afria's energy mix roadmap, is expected to be completed before year end and submitted to cabinet for approval.
Wednesday's court agreement means that even if cabinet approves the plan and decides how much nuclear energy South Africa should procure, Nersa would have to undertake its own transparent, public process and not just rubberstamp the decision.
De Gasparis said the court proceedings would be revived if due process was not followed,.
"A brand new reshuffled minister of energy may not come to South Africa and say yes we're going to go for nuclear energy as has been in the press lately. It means he must do proper public participation," she said.
"We want our government to take its energy procurement process seriously and do it properly as required in our Constitution."
Since becoming Energy Minister after President Jacob Zuma's most recent cabinet reshuffle, Mahlobo has maintained nuclear would remain part of South Africa's energy mix.
But with South Africa's debt costs increasing and tax revenue falling, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has said the country could neither afford nuclear nor needed it right now.
- AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY