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Nuclear battle not over yet, warns OUTA

Apr 26 2017 14:48
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – Civil rights organisations have welcomed the Western Cape High Court ruling that nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, Russia and South Korea are unconstitutional and unlawful.  the decision by a high court, declaring nuclear agreements illegal. However the battle against nuclear is not yet over.

According to Ted Blom, portfolio director on energy matters at the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), it is still possible for the decision to be appealed.

“We must not relax, we firmly expect an appeal, we will be absolutely astonished if there is no appeal… There could be an appeal or even disregard of the judgment. We would ask the public to remain vigilant and alert.”

Western Cape High Court Judge Lee Bozalek on Wednesday ruled in favour of the case brought by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) against government, which was lodged as far back as October 2015. 

Bozalek declared government’s attempts to secure 9.6 GW of nuclear energy were unlawful. Other procurement processes such as cooperation agreements between South Africa and vendor countries including Russia, the US and South Korea and former energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s decision to hand over the process to Eskom were set aside. 

Read: Court sets aside nuclear deals with Russia, other countries

OUTA welcomed the decision by Bozalek and provided Safcei with resources. The organisation will still work to ensure government would not make “irrational and uninformed” energy generation decisions. The organisation will promote an “informed, transparent and meaningful” energy framework, with a credible Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)".

Blom explained it is important to ensure the IRP and Independent Power Producer (IPPs) programmes are on par. He said it could take as long as 12 months for government to correct current procurement processes.

“We want transparency and professionalism. A lot of this stuff is not professional and would not stand up to scrutiny. Even if it was transparent, it’s still defective.” He added that OUTA would not support any nuclear programme under the Zuma administration. “It’s too tainted and not possible for them to be honest and transparent.”

READ: FULL JUDGMENT: Nuclear process declared unlawful

Newlylaunched trade federation the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) shared its support of the high court’s decision.

Acting spokesperson Patrick Craven said that the federation aims to “step up the campaign” against nuclear energy, and promote socially owned renewable energy. “Nuclear energy is both excessively expensive and dangerous.” Saftu wants government to accept the ruling and completely scrap the deal.

Department of Energy spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane told Fin24 the department is still looking at the judgment and would release an official comment when ready. 

Fin24 reached out to Eskom, which was named procurer of the nuclear build programme last year.

ALSO READ: Eskom now officially in charge of nuclear deal

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the power utility’s legal team is studying the judgment before releasing comment. 

Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, which intended to submit its bid for the nuclear build tender proces,s also could not comment on how the ruling may impact its prospects.

Responding to Fin24 by email, a senior official said that the company abides by global best practices and operates within the legal framework of potential partner countries. 

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