Rosatom powers on in nuclear-build race
Legal bid to stop Mahlobo fast-tracking trillion-rand deal
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.
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