Koeberg Power Station near Melkbos as seen from the air. Photo: Sam Clark

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance said on Monday it was taking legal advice on the approval of government's new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) , which envisions nuclear procurement.

Democratic Alliance energy spokesman, Gavin Davis, said the apparently rushed approval of the policy blueprint with no official Cabinet announcement and without further public participation was suspect.

"This hasty approval of the IRP under the cover of darkness is a full three months before the February 2018 deadline set by former Minister Kubayi, and without the second round of public participation that was promised," he said.

Davis said it served to cement perceptions that former state security hawk David Mahlobo was appointed as energy minister in October to fast track the nuclear deal. 

"And rumours that money has already changed hands with Russian bidders will only intensify," he added.

"We are therefore in the process of consulting our legal team to assess whether the new IRP has been approved lawfully, and what steps can be taken in this regard."

Mahlobo last week confirmed that the IRP had been approved, and revealed only that it retained a commitment to a mix of coal, renewable and nuclear energy, but at smaller volumes that previously envisaged due to a drop in demand.

“We will no longer have 9.6 GW of new nuclear, it has come down,” Mahlobo was quoted as saying, adding that the full details of the plan would be available on publication.

Davis said he expected it to be published in the Government Gazette later this week.

He termed the lack of an official statement after the Cabinet meeting bizarre and said it suggested that the current administration was trying to commit the country to a nuclear deal before the ruling African National Congress' (ANC's) elective conference at the weekend, at which it will replace President Jacob Zuma as party leader.

"Zuma, who is believed to be under pressure from the Russians, is clearly worried that a new ANC leadership (and potentially a new Cabinet) may have other ideas when it comes to nuclear. He wants to make it as difficult as possible for any potential successor to put a halt to nuclear procurement," he said.

Davis said it would be irrational to rush into a nuclear deal the country could not afford and, according to scientific studies, did not need.

African News Agency/ANA