'Another chance': MPs, industry welcome new Necsa board

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Members of Parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources and energy said the appointment of a new board to the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa was critical to stabilising the entity and setting it on the path to recovery.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe announced the appointment of seven new members to the board of Necsa on Tuesday afternoon after previous board members all handed in their resignations. The new board is to be chaired by former chief nuclear officer at Eskom, David Nicholls.

Necsa has not been able to table its annual reports and financial statements to Parliament since 2018, in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act. 

Portfolio committee chair Sahlulele Luzipo told Fin24 the new board would give Necsa the chance to recover. 

"We welcome the appointment of the board because that is what needed to be done and that it moves to ensure stability at the entity. We look forward to engaging with the minister and the entity to bring stability to the corporation," said Luzipo.

Committee member for the Democratic Alliance Kevin Mileham told Fin24 that Necsa would benefit considerably from a complete board, as well as the experience of Nicholls, who will serve as the board's chair.

'Dire straits'

"The DA welcomes the appointment of the board. We are hopeful that this will bring stability and competency to an entity that has been rocked by governance and financial challenges in recent years. The entity is in dire straits and difficult decisions will have to be made to save it," said Mileham.

The South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society released a statement noting the appointments, saying it looked forward to a good working relationship with the new board and the participation of young professionals in the key strategic projects.

"We express our full confidence in the new board, that it will expedite the process of appointing the new CEO who will bring about the much-needed turnaround strategy which will ensure that Necsa continues to serve as an important hub for training, producing and employing young professionals in various fields within the industry," the statement said.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union released a statement, saying it believed that the appointment was a very important step in restoring good governance and stability in the organisation.

"It gives all of us another chance to turn Necsa around from the destructive path under the previous Board, and place it once more in the path of growth and sustainability," the statement said.

The union gave its vote of confidence to Nicholls, noting he worked as the Chief Nuclear Officer at Eskom and on the Small Modular Reactor with Necsa.

"He has always been at the forefront of championing the nuclear industry in South Africa and has keen interest in seeing Necsa grow and taking its rightful place in the future of the South African economy and the health of our citizens."

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