Dept confirms resignation of remaining nuclear board members

UPDATE: The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has confirmed the resignation of the remaining members of the Board of South African Nuclear Energy Corporation. 

Earlier on Wednesday Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe told reporters he had not yet received any resignations from Necsa current board members but would not stop them if they wished to leave.

"From the time of his appointment, the minister has stated as one of his key priorities the stabilising of entities, and ensuring good governance in entities in the minerals and energy portfolio. Governance must be stable and strengthened in order to adequately attend to operational and financial risks in the entities, including Necsa," the department said in a statement at 11am on Wednesday. 

The department said that a list of proposed names for the board has been finalised for submission to Cabinet. 

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe told reporters on Wednesday morning that he had not received any resignations from the current board members of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, but would not stop them if they wished to leave.

This came after energy expert Chris Yelland posted on Twitter on Wednesday that the entire board had submitted their resignations. Yelland said board members quit over an apparent failure by the minister to give the corporation adequate financial support. TimesLive also reported that the remaining members of the board had resigned, saying they complained in their resignation letter of a lack of support, among other things. 

Fin24 could not on independently confirm the letter.  Necsa spokesperson Nkelwa Tengimfene referred all questions to the Department of Energy. 

Department spokesperson Nathi Shabangu told Fin24 later on Wednesday that when the minister spoke about the matter earlier in the day he was not aware of a letter.

"But we were later informed that the letter was sent late yesterday after [5pm]. But this letter has not been seen by the minister. If there is such a letter it will be something that the minister will take into consideration," said Shabangu.

Necsa conducts research and development in the field of nuclear energy, radiation sciences and technology. It is also responsible for uranium enrichment.

Mantashe told reporters in Witbank, Mpumalanga on Wednesday that he did not receive any resignations from the Necsa board members and that the members currently serving at the corporation did not constitute a complete board in any event.

"I have not received any resignation. The reality of the matter is that there was already no board. There were only three people left on the board and we are replenishing that board. Yesterday we were together and we identified names of people who must go to that board," said Mantashe, according to a clip shared with Fin24 by the department. 

Mantashe said the department was working with management at Necsa to give the corporation the capacity it needed to function but said he was not in the business of holding board members hostage if they wished to leave.

"We have accommodated the three, but if they want to leave, I will not stop them. Because what we are doing in the department is resuscitating governance in entities in the department which have collapsed," Matashe said.

Regarding the financial challenges that the board members allegedly cited when resigning, Mantashe said there was no way to protect Necsa from financial and operational risks without improving its governance first.

"We are steady and moving step by step to improve governance. If we don't have good governance, we will have high financial and operational risks. As we pay attention to governance, we will look at financial and operational risks," he said.

* Update: This article was updated at 09:50 on January 15. 

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