Nuclear build to start this year

Eight months after a nuclear deal was signed with Russia the Cabinet is due to finally see that deal next week Wednesday, energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament on Tuesday.

The Russian deal, and nuclear framework agreements with other countries, will then be presented to Parliament for ratification, Joemat-Pettersson said, without specifying when.

Nor did she specify when the deals will be released to the public. Cabinet can choose to do so, or not, while Parliament has mechanisms to consider agreements in secret should it choose to do so.

But the minister was very clear on when South Africa will start the process of buying new nuclear power stations, expected to cost up to R1-trillion.

“We will commence with the actual nuclear procurement process in the second quarter of this financial year,” Joemat-Pettersson said, as vendor parades have been completed with all countries that had expressed interest in the nuclear build.


In a subtle but notable departure from previous wording, Joemat-Pettersson said the nuclear build would be handled in a “fair, transparent and cost-effective manner”. In his most recent State of the Nation address President Jacob Zuma said the procurement would be by way of “a fair, transparent and competitive procurement process”.

Government-to-government deal
Joemat-Pettersson spoke not at all of competition, or an open tender process, reinforcing expectations that the procurement of new nuclear power stations would be on a government-to-government basis.

In a secret presentation to Cabinet in October 2013 the energy department recommended a closed, government-to-government procurement process for nuclear stations.

It is not clear whether that proposal was ever accepted by the national executive, but another recommendation from the same proposal – that Eskom be excluded from the process and that the energy department take responsibility for the procurement – appeared to be implemented.

Since last year South Africa has signed government-to-government nuclear framework agreements with China, France, Russia, and South Korea, all of which were treated with great secrecy. It is understood that the agreements all excluded Eskom entirely from the project.

On Tuesday Joemat-Pettersson said that the country agreements “describe broad areas of nuclear co-operation” but “differ in emphasis”.

The state-owned Russian nuclear company Rosatom originally interpreted the agreement signed with it as an effective appointment for the entire nuclear build programme, an impression that was only gainsaid by the South African government after public outrage at the fait accompli.

Zuma visited Russia earlier this month and had what the presidency described as “wide ranging talks” with President Vladimir Putin.

“The leaders agreed on the need to intensify cooperation in various areas further – including trade – and to explore opportunities further in the areas of mining, energy and agriculture, amongst others,” the presidency said in a statement after the visit.

Joemat-Pettersson was not part of the delegation.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Phillip De Wet
Guest Author

Related stories

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

ANC pushes through controversial committee chairpersons

Controversial MPs who have engaged in questionable conduct are back in Parliament thanks to the governing party

Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ after nuclear deal limit breached

​US President Trump warned on Monday that Iran is "playing with fire" after Tehran said it exceeded a limit on enriched uranium reserves

Dubious comrades sent by the ANC to head parliamentary committees

After being cleared by the ANC’s internal ethics committee, prominent politicians from the Jacob Zuma’s administration are back in Parliament

Nuclear stalemate one year after Trump-Kim summit — analysts

In Singapore, Kim signed a vaguely-worded deal on denuclearisation, touted by Trump as a historic breakthrough

Both allies opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa on ANC lists receive objections

The IEC has received objections to over 20 candidates on the ANC’s lists
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday