Nuclear plan will keep SA's poor in the dark - Kumi Naidoo | Fin24
  • Covid-19 Money Hub

    The hub will help answer your business and money questions during the coronavirus crisis.

  • Dudu Myeni

    The former SAA chair has been declared a delinquent director for her role at the national airline.

  • Cigarette Ban

    Govt says emerging research shows smoking leads to more severe cases of Covid-19.


Nuclear plan will keep SA's poor in the dark - Kumi Naidoo

May 23 2016 18:40
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Former Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo said millions of South Africans living without electricity cannot wait 10-15 years for the nuclear procurement plan to roll out enough electricity to bring them onto the grid.

Speaking at the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (Safcei) fundraising breakfast on Monday, the anti-apartheid activist said “one in four South Africans don’t have access to electricity”.

“We can host the 2010 Soccer World Cup and build a Nkandla, but we have not been able" to bring electricity to all South Africans, he said.

“Our economy needs energy now; we cannot wait for 10 to 15 years,” he said, predicting the time it would take to build a nuclear power plant.

Global Carbon Exchange (GCX) founder Kevin James added in his speech that renewable energy projects in South Africa were being completed in 18 months.

“Nuclear is too expensive and too dangerous,” said Naidoo. “The country will deliver too little, too late.”

“Investing any more time, energy (and) resources in this nuclear misadventure, which will not I believe ever take off, … means that we are losing time,” he said.  

WATCH: Interview with former Greenpeace director Kumi Naidoo

Naidoo's new focus

Naidoo, who stepped down from Greenpeace at the end of 2015, is focusing on uniting organisations in African to work on issues such as “corruption, climate change, poverty, inequality and the shrinking democratic space”.

“My South African focus is really on pushing for a clean energy (and) renewable energy agenda, to do it from a perspective of not just energy, but also on the job creation aspect.”

He wants to look at how South Africa can tackle energy development with more innovative and “21st Century thinking”, such as micro-solar grids and feeding tariffs.

Naidoo added that the government’s argument that it requires nuclear as a clean way to produce baseload power was “fallacious”.

Safcei raises funds for court case against 'secret' nuclear deal

Safcei hosted the fundraiser to fund its court battle against the Department of Energy (DoE), which it claims is “dragging its heels” to drain the organisation of legal fees.

Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid told Fin24 that they had thus far raised R800 000 and pleaded to South Africans to donate money so they can take the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court if needs be.

“This court action is of the utmost importance for all South Africans to get behind,” she said.

“We are taking government to court – not on whether we should do nuclear or renewables – but actually about how we make decisions in the country.

“Keeping key decisions secret for two years and actually following a procurement process without following the Constitutional cost effective, equitable, fair process, means we are losing our democracy.”

SA commits to transparency

Government and Russia’s nuclear company Rosatom have both denied this allegation and say they are following a strict procurement process that appears to have stalled as a result of the court case.

Rosatom told Fin24 in 2015 that its press release in 2014 incorrectly alluded to a done deal, but said this was far from the truth.

“We cannot hook up with a politician and make a deal (that will span) generations,” Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom’s head of sub-Saharan Africa operations, said in February.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson also denied the deal. “We are committed to transparency,” she said in 2015. “We are not going to compromise our country in any way.”

In the 2014 Rosatom press release Joemat-Pettersson is quoted as saying: "This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides (a) proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration." 



Company Snapshot

Voting Booth

How has Covid-19 impacted your financial position?

Previous results · Suggest a vote