Is our nuclear programme on hold?

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament on Wednesday no new deadline had been issued on when the request for proposals would be gazetted .

DA MP Gordon Mackay has suggested this intimates the next phase of SA nuclear programme has been stalled indefinitely.

John Maytham spoke to Professor Harald Winkler, Director of the Energy Research Centre at UCT, about how he interprets these latest moves.

Is the procurement process in limbo? And is this signalling that the process has been stalled?

A delay in the procurement process, does not mean it will never go ahead. It can mean it is slowing down.

Professor Harald Winkler, Director of the Energy Research Centre, UCT

Two NGO's Earthlife Africa (ELA) and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) have a court case pending against the Department of Energy, claiming the agreement between South Africa and a Russian nuclear company is unlawful. They are asking for the agreement to be set aside, declaring it unconstitutional.

The State Law Adviser actually said that the content of that agreement with Russia must go to Parliament.

Professor Harald Winkler, Director of the Energy Research Centre, UCT

Winkler suggests that this court case may be putting government on the spot, as they had stated all along that they would ensure the procurement process was transparent. And now question marks are being raised.

South Africa's need for a nuclear programme is a subject of hot debate. But, says Winkler, affordability is a big concern.

A key question is affordability. And the reality is that the department of Energy say they have done the studies, they have completed the studies and it is affordable, but we have not seen any of these studies. It seems that Treasury may have taken a different view. We don't know, because we haven't seen the calculations and cant compare them...and that's what should happen. if we going to make an investment of this size, there should be open scrutiny of those studies of affordability.

Professor Harald Winkler, Director of the Energy Research Centre, UCT
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