Save SA asks Cabinet to scrap nuclear talks
During a special meeting in Parliament on Wednesday, civil society campaign Save SA asked Cabinet not to make any decisions on the proposed nuclear power procurement process.
A “critical” two-day Cabinet meeting on state-owned enterprises began in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Save SA convener and AngloGold Ashanti chairperson Sipho Pityana on Tuesday wrote to Cabinet ministers, pleading with them to refuse to discuss the fate of the nuclear deal.
“We understand that Cabinet is to consider some aspects of the proposed nuclear power procurement process, including vesting Eskom with the authority to lead the process.”
He asked them not to discuss the matter for the following reasons:
The Constitution requires that any public procurement be fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective;
There is enormous uncertainty about the integrity and governance of important public institutions at the moment, including Eskom;
There have been widespread calls to protect National Treasury from potential “state capture” by those with a direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the nuclear energy procurement process, including the Gupta family;
To remove authority from Treasury and the relevant ministries would be unwise;
It is far from clear whether South Africa needs or can afford to procure nuclear energy;
There is confusion and opacity about the funding of the procurement; and
Proceeding with the procurement process, especially if led by Eskom, could have disastrous consequences for the economy and for the poorest members of society.
“National Treasury has repeatedly said that procurement should only proceed if the country can afford it,” Pityana said.
“As far as the public is aware, no affordability study has been completed – certainly not one that has been published.
“We call upon you, as a member of Cabinet, to respect your responsibilities to the Constitution and the people of South Africa.”
President Jacob Zuma was criticised in September when Cabinet announced he would lead a presidential state-owned enterprises coordinating council. It was seen as an attempt to remove the oversight of these entities from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Zuma said there was “nothing sinister” about the establishment of the council, and that such speculation was baseless and false.