Zuma green lights signing nuke deal with France

President Jacob Zuma has granted authority to the minister of energy to sign a nuclear deal with France. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma has granted authority to the minister of energy to sign a nuclear deal with France. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma has granted Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson authority to sign a nuclear agreement with France, the presidency said on Friday.

“President Jacob Zuma has, in terms of section 231 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, granted authority to ... Joemat-Pettersson, to sign an agreement on co-operation in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, between the government of the Republic of South Africa and the government of the French Republic,” spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

The details of the signing of the agreement would be discussed by the department and its counterpart in France.

Eskom, after taking four years to make a decision on one of three international companies to use for the manufacture of six new steam generators at the Koeberg nuclear station, awarded the multibillion-rand Koeberg refurbishment contract to French nuclear vendor Areva.

The two main bidders for the R4.1-billion tender was a consortium led by French nuclear vendor Areva and its American-Japanese rival, Westinghouse. Eskom’s technical team had recommended Westinghouse for the bulk of a three-part contract in January 2013, only for the board’s tender committee to review and eventually overturn the decision.

Westinghouse was twice on the brink of clinching the greater part of the contract based on the recommendations of Eskom’s nuclear experts, only for politically appointed decision-makers to block the award and change the decision-making process.

Westinghouse, now the aggrieved loser in the R4.1-billion tender to revamp the Koeberg nuclear power station, has lodged a damning high court application to set aside the award to French rival Areva.

During the interdict application it was revealed that, following the final offers, Eskom’s Exco procurement committee had submitted a document proposing Westinghouse, which had scored better overall, as the final choice for the consolidated contract. 

But it had included an alternative recommendation for Areva, based on “strategic considerations” and a view that Areva was less risky, given the tight deadlines generated by all the delays. – Sapa, Staff reporter



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