Following court rule over the interdict on state capture report, civil society campaign Save SA has asked Cabinet to overrule the decision on the proposed nuclear talks by the state power utility, Eskom, during a special meeting in Parliament on Wednesday.
The campaign group which seemed more concerned by the state of the SA economy, particularly with the proposed plan for Eskom to oversee the nuclear talks, wrote to the cabinet to refuse to discuss the fate of the nuclear deal in its crucial meetings.
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The state cabinet is reportedly having a“critical” two-day meeting on state-owned enterprises which began in Cape Town on Tuesday. There, they are to critically discuss whether or not the nuclear talks is necessary for the country at the moment.
Writing the cabinet ahead of it meeting on the conditions of the nuclear talks, Save SA convenor and AngloGold Ashanti chairperson Sipho Pityana pleaded with the parliament to heed people’s cry for a termination of the deal.
“We understand that at its next meeting on Wednesday the Cabinet is to consider some aspects of the proposed nuclear power procurement process, including vesting Eskom with the authority to lead the process.” Pityana wrote as 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 very 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 reportedly stated
“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.”
The finance minister Pravin Gordhan had during his mid-term budget speech, confirmed that the SA power utility Eskom, will stand in as procurement agent for SA’s nuclear power project.
He said the proposed nuclear plan was to provide 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy, though government has been argued to be financially incapable of handling the project.
Gordhan’s confirmation of Eskom’s role in the project came a month after the utility announced its move to allay public fear over the said funding of SA’s nuclear power project by saying it will have about $11bn, or R150bn, available to cover the costs.