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Energy minister to cough up for nuclear court costs

Apr 26 2017 12:28
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The minister of energy is liable for all legal costs in the nuclear court case brought by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei).

Judge Lee Bozalek on Wednesday ruled in favour of the two organisations which launched a court application in October 2015, challenging government’s plans to procure 9.6 GW of nuclear energy.

READ: BREAKING: Court sets aside nuclear deals with Russia, other countries

In the ruling, Bozalek said the applicants in the court case have achieved “substantial success in the application” and it is therefore appropriate that they are awarded their costs.

Although the applicants sought a cost order against both President Jacob Zuma and the energy minister, in the current circumstances any cost order should be against the minister alone, according to the ruling.

Bozalek’s judgment effectively declared all government’s efforts to procure nuclear energy null and void. In addition to declaring South Africa’s agreements with Russia, the US and South Korea unlawful and unconstitutional, he also ruled that government’s 2013 and 2016 determinations to procure nuclear energy will be set aside.

The judgment also determines that the request for proposals and information to start procuring nuclear energy were unlawful, unconstitutional and therefore set aside.

“[The] 2013 and 2016 section 34 determinations fall to be set aside and … the Minister must, so to speak, start with a clean slate,” the ruling said.

READ: FULL JUDGMENT: Nuclear process declared unlawful

Both Eskom and the Department of Energy told Fin24’s Lameez Omarjee that their legal team is studying the ruling and that comment will be given afterwards, if necessary.

Addressing the media on the steps of the Western Cape High Court after the ruling, Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid said the judgment was about the rule of law, democracy and accountable governance.

“We fought hard for democracy. So far in the last while we have seen state capture. What this court case tells us is that the rule of law still works. As a result of this court case, the people of SA have to be consulted.

“The Russian agreement has been set aside. The nuclear determination has been set aside. There are no more secret deals. Everything has to happen in the open.”

Safcei further said the R1trn is now South Africa's and does not belong to a Russian or any other nuclear deal.

“So, back to the drawing board, Eskom. Back to the drawing board, Department of Energy. The people are going to be the (ones) talking now and speaking out on what energy we want.”

Zackie Achmat, a human rights activist who also attended the court proceedings, said in reaction to the ruling that Earthlife and Safcei can really “celebrate”.

“The minister was found to have acted unlawfully and the president by not tabling it in Parliament,” Achmat said.

“It is a total victory against corruption and it is a total defeat for Jacob Zuma and the corrupt Guptas and the corrupt Russians.”

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