NGOs take government to court over nuclear plans

Johannesburg - Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) Earthlife Africa Jhb and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institution (SAFCEI) have approached courts to challenge government’s plans to procure nuclear reactors.

The organisations are challenging various aspects of the nuclear procurement process. Liziwe McDaid of SAFCEI on Thursday said the nuclear programme, whose exact costs are yet to be determined, would be government’s single biggest investment.

The organisations said they therefore expect a rigorous and transparent procurement process, with detailed technical studies and an opportunity for discussion. “What we have is a complete lack of transparency,” said McDaid.

She said the organisations sent letters to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson but have received no response.

In their papers, the organisations said Joemat-Pettersson had failed to put the necessary processes in place to ensure that the nuclear procurement deal is concluded lawfully and meets the requirements of the constitution for a fair, equitable, transparent, competent and cost-effective process.

The organisations have cited Joemat-Pettersson, President Jacob Zuma, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise. They said they are not seeking relief against Nersa, Mbete and Modise.

Among others, the organisations challenge the legality and constitutionality of the intergovernmental agreement on strategic partnership and nuclear signed with Russia last year, the tabling of the agreement in Parliament and the tabling of intergovernment agreements with the US and the Republic of Korea.

They also challenge Joemat-Pettersson’s failure to make a determination that new nuclear capacity generation is required, as required by the Electricity Regulation Act. They also allege that she has failed to ensure that the procurement of such capacity is done in terms of a specified procurement system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.

The organisations said they expect Joemat-Pettersson and Zuma to respond to the application within 10 days.

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