Nuclear board resignations due to government meddling, says OUTA

The resignation of members from the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa's board is a sign that government interference is corroding governance at strategic state-owned companies, placing the country at risk of falling down a "precipice of downgrades", the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said on Thursday.

The stepping down of the final three members of the board emerged on Wednesday morning. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe initially said he had not received their resignations, but would not stop them if they wished to leave, Fin24 reported.  

Parastatals including Eskom and South African Airways have faced several shock resignations of top executives and management in recent months.

Few of the outgoing executives have spoken publicly about their reasons for resigning.

'Precipice of downgrades'

However, OUTA's executive director of public governance, Heinrich Volmink, said in a statement from the organisation that political meddling was directly responsible for the instability of leadership at NECSA and other state-owned entities, which he likened to "musical chairs".

"Its role in crucial areas such as medical radioisotopes, for example, has been undermined by governance failures. This has had a negative knock-on effect on SA's ability to play a more prominent role in medical isotope manufacturing on the international stage," said Volmink.

Volmink said the kind of instability seen at state-owned companies had the potential to thrust South Africa "to the precipice of further downgrades".

"There appears to be a critical lack of political leadership and support when it comes to ensuring that the successful NTP Radioisotopes within Necsa remains a viable entity and operates independently of political interference," Volmink said.

NTP Radioisotopes is a Necsa subsidiary.

Mantashe told reporters on Wednesday morning that government interventions into Necsa sought to improve the governance and operational state of the company.

A statement from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said a list of proposed names for the Necsa Board had been prepared for submission to Cabinet for concurrence.

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