Rosatom pow­ers on in nu­clear-build race

Le­gal bid to stop Mahlobo fast-track­ing tril­lion-rand deal

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

ROSATOM is push­ing through with its bid de­spite two en­vi­ron­men­tal groups drag­ging Min­is­ter of En­ergy David Mahlobo to court to block the nu­clear-build pro­gramme.

Head of Rosatom in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa Vik­tor Po­likar­pov said yes­ter­day they were still in the race to build nu­clear en­ergy plants in South Africa ir­re­spec­tive of what was hap­pen­ing.

Po­likar­pov, who was in Ghana, said they were not in­volved in pol­i­tics and were sim­ply busi­ness peo­ple.

This week Earth­life Africa and the South­ern African Faith Com­mu­ni­ties’ En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tute (Saf­cei) lodged an ur­gent high court ap­pli­ca­tion to block Mahlobo from fast-track­ing the nu­clear-build pro­gramme.

This fol­lowed re­ports that Mahlobo was plan­ning to fi­nalise pro­cesses soon.

Po­likar­pov said they would still pur­sue the nu­clear-build pro­gramme in South Africa. He said Rosatom was busy all over Africa. “As for SA, if the gov­ern­ment launches an­other ten­der we will par­tic­i­pate. This is busi­ness for us which should not be mixed with pol­i­tics,” said Po­likar­pov.

Earth­life Africa and Saf­cei said their high court ac­tion was to block Mahlobo from push­ing through the nu­clear deal be­cause he was fast-track­ing the process.

Mahlobo will be in Par­lia­ment on Tues­day and will brief the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on en­ergy on mat­ters of en­ergy in the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has in­sisted re­cently in Par­lia­ment that nu­clear would be pro­cured on a scale and pace that South Africa can af­ford.

He de­nied there was a con­tra­dic­tion be­tween Mahlobo and Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s views on nu­clear, with the lat­ter hav­ing said it was un­af­ford­able.

Gi­gaba has said the coun­try would not be in a po­si­tion to af­ford nu­clear en­ergy for the next five years.

Mahlobo told the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces a few weeks ago that nu­clear en­ergy re­mained the pol­icy of gov­ern­ment.

Earth­life Africa and Saf­cei said they want Mahlobo and Eskom to pro­vide doc­u­ments to de­ter­mine if they have be­gun with the nu­clear pro­cure­ment process.

The two or­gan­i­sa­tions said that should ev­i­dence emerge that the process has be­gun that would be in con­tempt of an ear­lier court judgment in April when the West­ern Cape High Court blocked the process.

It urged the gov­ern­ment to fol­low the re­quired pro­cesses in­clud­ing go­ing to Par­lia­ment and scrap­ping all pre­vi­ous in­ter-gov­ern­men­tal agree­ments with Rus­sia, the US, China and France.

Rosatom, which is Rus­sia’s state en­ergy firm, is just one of the com­pa­nies bid­ding for nu­clear-build con­tracts.

Eskom had is­sued a Re­quest For In­for­ma­tion (RFI) last year De­cem­ber and it was one of sev­eral com­pa­nies that sub­mit­ted them.

Be­fore Eskom is­sued a Re­quest for Pro­pos­als (RFPs) the high court blocked the deal.

Rosatom has said in the past it would use a ven­dor fi­nanc­ing pro­gramme for nu­clear and they have done this all over the world.

Civil so­ci­ety and op­po­si­tion par­ties have been up in arms about the nu­clear pro­gramme, say­ing it would bank­rupt the state.

For­mer Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Dames told the in­quiry into state cap­ture in Par­lia­ment last month that from the re­search they had done at Eskom nu­clear was not af­ford­able.

He said the fig­ures they saw were shock­ing and he did not dis­close the es­ti­mated costs of the pro­gramme.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

En­ergy Min­is­ter David Mahlobo says nu­clear en­ergy is still gov­ern­ment pol­icy while Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba says it’s un­af­ford­able for SA for the next five years and a court has ruled against it

David Mahlobo

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