Anti-nuke NGOs fear the worst

MAHLOBO RE­FUSES TO AL­LOW DIS­CUS­SION ON THE POWER PLAN AT GATH­ER­ING En­ergy min­is­ter to present power gen­er­a­tion pro­posal to pres­i­dent by next week.

The Citizen (KZN) - - NEWS - Amanda Wat­son – aman­daw@cit­i­zen.co.za

Op­po­nents of a R1 tril­lion nu­clear power sta­tion-build pro­gramme fear the worst: that En­ergy Min­is­ter David Mahlobo and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will push it through even though South Africa cur­rently has an elec­tric­ity sur­plus.

They demon­strated out­side the En­ergy Ind­aba in Midrand yes­ter­day, voic­ing con­cern that for the ANC gov­ern­ment nu­clear en­ergy is not even up for de­bate.

And dis­cus­sions on where South Africa should source its en­ergy from in the next few years were firmly closed be­fore the ind­aba even started.

Yes­ter­day, Mahlobo said that by next week he would give Zuma “the plan” – the In­de­pen­dent Re­source Plan (IRP), which he must then make avail­able to South Africans, to grow the sec­tor.

“Pres­i­dent Zuma is our fa­ther as a na­tion and he has worked very hard for us to be sit­ting here to­day with other lead­ers of the ANC and free­dom fight­ers so that to­gether we can con­vince this room to shape our fu­ture and our des­tiny,” Mahlobo said

How­ever, many or­gan­i­sa­tions have a prob­lem with “the plan” and have threat­ened le­gal ac­tion.

The Coali­tion for En­vi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice, Dar­gle Con­ser­vancy, Earth­life Africa Jo­han­nes­burg, Far South Penin­sula Com­mu­nity Fo­rum, Fed­er­a­tion for a Sus­tain­able En­vi­ron­ment, Frack Free South Africa, Green­peace Africa, ground­Work, and the Cen­tre For En­vi­ron­men­tal Rights (CER) are just a hand­ful of the or­gan­i­sa­tions at their wits’ end with Mahlobo.

CER and a few oth­ers have threat­ened le­gal ac­tion, depend­ing on the con­tents of Mahlobo’s “plan”, which will de­tail how South Africa will source its en­ergy in the years to come.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion noted at a meet­ing this week that Mahlobo had “made it clear” there would be no fur­ther pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion on the con­tents of the IRP be­fore its ap­proval by Cabi­net.

Mahlobo also ap­par­ently told rep­re­sen­ta­tives that the En­ergy Ind­aba “was not in­tended to ad­dress the IRP in any way, shape or form – in­stead it was for busi­ness, labour and gov­ern­ment to dis­cuss ways to rein­vig­o­rate the en­ergy sec­tor in or­der to stim­u­late eco­nomic growth”.

The Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa) was also one of a few or­gan­i­sa­tions protest­ing at the ind­aba.

“This is not con­sul­ta­tion,” said Outa’s Ben Theron af­ter­wards.

“We ab­so­lutely re­ject the ind­aba as any form of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion as the [de­part­ment] chose who should at­tend.

“Outa will fight this ma­nip­u­lated and flawed process.”

Zuma, who has pushed for a new nu­clear power sta­tion-build pro­gramme in spite of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s protes­ta­tions that South Africa could not af­ford it, said noth­ing to al­lay fears that it was al­ready in the pipe­line.

“We want to en­sure that we never ex­pe­ri­ence an en­ergy short­age again,” said Zuma.

“In this re­gard, we will con­tin­u­ously in­vest in power gen­er­a­tion, trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion in­fra­struc­ture.

“We are pur­su­ing our en­ergy se­cu­rity mas­ter plan. We are look­ing at an en­ergy mix that in­cludes coal, so­lar, wind, hy­dro, gas and nu­clear.”

Theron said: “The en­ergy pol­icy process and, par­tic­u­larly, the at­tempts to in­clude the nu­clear build, is hugely con­tro­ver­sial and the de­part­ment of en­ergy clearly knows this.

“Dis­cus­sions and de­ci­sions on these mat­ters must in­volve clear, le­gal and ef­fec­tive pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion, which doesn’t in­clude hastily ar­ranged meet­ings with a limited guest list.”

Pic­ture: Neil McCart­ney

MAK­ING A POINT. Var­i­ous anti-nu­clear groups protest out­side the En­ergy Ind­aba in Midrand yes­ter­day in op­po­si­tion to the gov­ern­ment’s nu­clear en­ergy plans.

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