Cape Town – Nuclear Africa CEO Dr Kelvin Kemm has been appointed as chairperson of the embattled South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), according to Cabinet on Thursday.
Kemm, a nuclear physicist and regular Fin24 opinion writer, is one of nine new board members that Cabinet approved during their meeting on Wednesday.
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This will go a long way to stabilising the state-owned company, which seeks to play a significant role in the country’s 9 600 MW nuclear energy programme.
With a non-functioning board and a CEO who is on a contract that is renewed monthly, Necsa has come under increasing pressure for not finalising its annual financial statements for 2014/15, which is now five months late.
CEO Phumzile Tshelane welcomed the appointments. “The Necsa CEO and management team welcome this positive development as it will strengthen the corporations’ governance process,” he told Fin24.
Kemm told Fin24 that he looks forward to contributing “as much as I can to this exciting phase in the development of our country”.
“South Africa as a country, and Necsa as an organisation, has been deeply involved in nuclear technology for many decades, so the experience and competence base exists in South Africa,” said Kemm.
Kemm said nuclear power has shown itself internationally to be a very safe, reliable, and inexpensive source of electricity. “South Africa and southern Africa needs to increase its electricity supply considerably in coming decades,” he said. “Nuclear is without doubt an essential component of the national electricity mix.”
Apart from ensuring Necsa finalises its financial reports, Kemm will also have to engage with the issue of Tshelane, who is currently embroiled in two court actions relating to Necsa.
The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission applied in December to the High Court in Pretoria for him to be placed on probation after he failed to refund the company for the private use of a company car, Business Day reported.
In January “former Necsa director Medi Mokuena, whose term ended in October, has also brought a court application to the same court, seeking action against the directors,” journalist Carol Paton said.
“As well as seeking to have Mr Tshelane removed, Ms Mokuena wants him and Necsa chairman Mochubela Seekoe and the Department of Energy’s head of nuclear energy to be declared by the court to be delinquent.”
Joining Kemm on the board is ANC MP Nqaba Ngcobo, who is the chairperson of the portfolio committee on science and technology.
The other new board members are:
- Former Business Women's Association president Dr Namane Magau and a former Necsa spokesperson.
- Former BHP Billiton chairperson Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi
- Pebble Bed Modular Reactor CEO Dr Alex Tsela
- Black Business Chamber acting CEO Rosemary Mosia
- Lawyer Zibusise Comfort Ngidi
- Former chief financial officer of the KZN Treasury and Education Department Pamela Bosman
- ANC member Prince Kennedy Tshivhase
The appointment of the board comes as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa leads a reform programme of state-owned enterprises (SOE), which will include restructuring certain entities and reorganising boards to ensure excellent governance levels.
President Jacob Zuma said SOEs must be properly governed and managed in his state of the nation address this year. "We will ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission on State Owned Enterprises, which outlines how the institutions should be managed," he said.
"We have to streamline and sharpen the mandates of the companies and ensure that where there are overlaps in the mandates, there is immediate rationalisation," said Zuma. "Those companies that are no longer relevant to our development agenda will be phased out."
"Government departments to which they report, will set the agenda and identify key projects for the State owned companies to implement, over a defined period. Proper monitoring and evaluation will be done."