Anti-nuclear tirade is paranoid, illogical nonsense

I read with amazement the letter of Joachim Zimmer (“SA neither needs, nor can it afford, nuclear”, Business Report, June 9) attacking the nuclear information article of Keith Bryer (“The truth of the matter,” Business Report, June 6).

Zimmer accuses Bryer of using selected facts and half-truths. Bryer did not, I read his article carefully and I am a nuclear physicist. Zimmer’s letter, however, is not a case of half truths, it is an outright case of nonsense.

Zimmer says that 100 000 people cannot return to their houses around Fukushima. In fact, they started to return on April 1, when the evacuation order for the district of Miyakoji was lifted. On that day, shops reopened and refuse collection resumed.

He says that keeping “25 or 30 years worth [of spent fuel] in the on-site fuel pools [at Koeberg] constitutes the risk of a disaster larger than Chernobyl”.

Nonsense. There is absolutely no relationship between storing spent fuel and the gas explosion that happened at Chernobyl. Clearly, Zimmer has no understanding of any of the physics.

Zimmer says that terrorists “would try to get the [Koeberg] spent fuel pool dry and self-igniting by any sabotage, including a smart cyber-attack”.

Come off it. Star Wars is more believable. Spent fuel does not “self-ignite” when dry. The water is not there to stop fuel “igniting”, it is there to shield reactor operators from radiation when they bend over the pool to look into it. I have done this myself many times.

Zimmer’s tirade is pitiful nonsense which illustrates the paranoia and absence of any logical sense in the anti-nuclear attacks launched by a particular faction of the anti-nuclear lobby.

Dr Kelvin Kemm, Nuclear Physicist


New land reform legislation welcomed

President Jacob Zuma, in his State of the Nation address, mentioned that his next term of office would be underpinned by radical economic transformation, a point rebutted by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

“You cannot pay for stolen land,” Malema retorted during the parliamentary debate on the president’s address. A reminder, perhaps, of the conclusion of this country’s most costly land claim earlier this year, when the government paid more than R1 billion for the world-renowned Mala Mala game reserve as part of land restitution.

The introduction of new legislation to speed up the process is a welcome development. While the amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 will offer claimants another opportunity at getting their land back, questions must be asked about the imposition of these deadlines and whether they do not deny victims of apartheid laws the restoration of their rights, land included.

The government has been advised by one of South Africa’s foremost legal experts, Jeremy Gauntlett SC, that there are no legal obstacles to reopening its land restitution programme even though questions have been raised about its ability to cover the potential R197bn price tag.

The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill will, once promulgated, extend the deadline for lodging a claim for restitution until the end of 2018 from the previous deadline of the end of 1998.

There are an estimated 397 000 valid restitution claims for apartheid-era forced removals. Only about 80 000 claims were lodged by the 1998 deadline, while 3.5 million people had been forcibly evicted from their land or otherwise shifted to the homelands during the apartheid era; and about 4 million people had lost land under “betterment” schemes.

Effective systems are in place to process new claims at a faster pace. The processing of the previous 80 000 claims had been slow, partly because it was done manually and files often got lost. Everything will now be electronic.

The amendment bill would also allow for exceptional claims by the Khoi and San people for the dispossession of land before the promulgation of the 1913 Native Land Act. The amendments extend the window period for lodging claims to June 18, 2018.

The commitment to return land to rightful owners as enshrined in the constitution should outweigh any other factor. The establishment of the office of the valuer-general, whose role will be to evaluate land and farms, will offer a much-needed reprieve in lengthy negotiations over price.

The government will now be able to pay what is recommended by this office.

Returning land to rightful owners is not enough to address poverty. The restoration of dignity through ownership alone, when the land is not productive, yields nothing.

Equally pleasing is the commitment by the Commission for Restitution of Land and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to use mistakes of the past as lessons for the successful implementation of land reform.

Pockets of success have begun to emerge as the government moves to recapitalise and assist in the development of farms left fallow. However, these lessons will have to be implemented at lightning speed for the true fruits of the land to be realised by the new owners.

If we have no land to live on, we can be no people.

Tshepo Diale

Nkwe Estate