November 21, 2017

South Africa’s civil rights groups demand to see “hidden” documents on nuclear deal

After four months of hiatus, the government of South Africa’s controversial involvement in the nuclear power development project has been thrust into the spotlight by civil rights groups once again.

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA) are challenging the government in court to prove this nuclear agreement with the Russia has not yet been sealed.

ELA’s Dominque Doyle said government continued to promise a fair and accountable process of nuclear procurement, but its deeds did not live up to its promises.

“We need answers,” said Doyle. “Parliament should hold government accountable in a transparent manner.”

“Getting information out of government has been like pulling teeth,” said Safcei spokesperson, Liz McDaid. “The case has been drawn out since October 2015, with government reluctant to provide the information necessary for a fair hearing.”

Both the Safcei and ELA allege that the government has failed to disclose at least 10 documents to which it refers when justifying its decisions to enter into a nuclear deal with Russia. The following are what they claim are missing documents:

  1. The proposal to cabinet that the minister signed off for the roll-out of the new nuclear power plants;
  2. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review by the International Atomic Energy Agency;
  3. The terms of reference for the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordinating Committee;
  4. The communication and stakeholder engagement strategy;
  5. The phased decision making approach for implementing the nuclear programme;
  6. The designation of Eskom as the owner and operator of nuclear power plants in South Africa;
  7. The 2004 Bilateral International Agreement with the Russian Federation;
  8. The May 2013 agreement between Russia and South Africa signed during the Brics summit meeting in Durban;
  9. The invitation to attend vendor parade workshops sent to the Republic of Korea, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the French Republic, the People’s Republic of China, Canada and the Kingdom of Japan; and
  10. The list of topics each vendor country was requested to address relating to the invitation referred to in the previous point.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Minister of Energy, Joemat-Pettersson, has emphasised that there is no “nuclear deal”.

“We remain firmly committed to an above board, fair and transparent procurement process with due regard to the scale, pace and price of the programme,” she said.

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