Pretoria - Eskom can go-ahead with the signing of 27 renewable energy contracts and the purchase of alternative energy from Independent Power Producers (IPP), after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Thursday struck an application to halt this process from the roll.
Judge Dawie Fourie found that the application launched by The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and Transform RSA, was not urgent.
The two applicants wanted an urgent interdict preventing the signing of these agreements, pending “the main” application, launched by Coal Transporters Forum (CTF) which is due to be heard in the next few months.
In that application, CTF will ask the court to finally interdict Eskom from signing these agreements. The applicants in this week’s application, however, wanted to prevent the government from going ahead with the signing of the contracts, pending the main application.
They told the court that if the signing now went ahead, it would render the main application moot as the horse would have bolted.
But Judge Fourie did not agree. He said the issues could be addressed during the main application, which will not be heard on an urgent basis. The judge said even if the contracts had been signed by the time the main application is heard, the applicants could institute proceedings to have the signing of the contracts reviewed and set aside.
The judge found that there was no need to approach the court on an urgent basis, as the applicants could still get redress at a later stage ( by launching review proceedings or during the main application). He said if the court at a later stage then decided to grant the review and setting aside of the contracts, it would render the power purchase agreement void.
The applicants earlier this month turned to court for a late night urgent interdict after Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, announced that he would sign the agreements on March 13.
Judge Cynthia Pretorius at the time refused to grant the interdict and the matter was postponed to Tuesday this week.
Counsel for the minister at the time agreed that the signing would not go ahead, pending the outcome of these proceedings. But as the matter is now struck from the roll, there is nothing preventing the government from going ahead to sign the contracts.