South African citizens are kept hostage, to give the One Trillion Rand nuclear deal approval:

Opinion by Bill Harington

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Eskom, a state-owned entity, and the designated procurer for South Africa’s new nuclear build programme has gone on a charm offensive and commissioned a study in 2017 already that has shown the multibillion-rand benefits of its Koeberg nuclear power station.

Eskom also previously released the results of a KPMG study that looked at Koeberg’s socio-economic impact in the Western Cape and South Africa in the period between 2012 and 2025.

It was found that although Koeberg, which is Africa’s only nuclear plant, has been producing power into the national electricity grid since the mid-1980s, nuclear still battles with social acceptability in certain quarters in South Africa and internationally.

The ANC government’s plans to go ahead with the nuclear build programme has consistently run into opposition from environmental and affordability grounds, not to mention the cost thereof, nor the involvement from Russia, on such a deal.

Economic impact assessment of Koeberg does not provide answers to all the questions either. But it adds context to the journey we are on and helps us to alter their philosophical views on nuclear power. It is meant to inform, also to be the watchdogs on mismanagement, may it be nuclear waste storage and or possible corruption. For me what is important is not proving whether nuclear is preferable to coal or renewables to gas. What is important is why are Zuma and some ANC cadres pushing for nuclear power and why are we experiencing intensified load shedding recently.

Ironically, Eskom has recently been in the spotlight for its decision to decommission five of its power stations from 2020 because of, among others, lethargic economic growth and the addition of renewable energy from independent power producers.

Previously (BRICS) and Zuma’s (ANC) nuclear ambitions were dealt a blow by a court ruling.

A ruling that the government failed to comply with the constitution when it initiated a process to build new atomic power plants has dealt a major blow to ex-president Jacob Zuma’s nuclear ambitions.

The Western Cape High Court previously ordered the government to hold public hearings and a parliamentary debate on the nuclear programme, which may cost as much as R1 trillion ($76bn). It set aside a 2015 decision to procure new nuclear capacity and nullified co-operation accords the government has concluded with countries including Russia, the US, and South Korea. Judge Lee Bozalek then ordered the state to pay all costs – to the expense of South African Taxpayers.

Zuma (when he was president of South Africa) has championed the building of as many as eight reactors that would generate 9 600 megawatts of energy starting from 2023 – Some opposition parties indicated that is mired in corruption. Civil-rights groups including Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said the government ignored the due process in approving the plants and filed a lawsuit aimed at halting their construction. The ANC energy ministry’s own research showed additional nuclear power probably won’t be needed until 2037.

The court ruling was a major blow for Zuma and his allies because they will now realize that large infrastructure deals cannot be made behind closed doors and are subject to transparent and public participatory processes.

The new plants were a key point of dispute between Zuma and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, who questioned whether the country could afford them. Zuma fired Gordhan shortly after, prompting S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings to downgrade the country’s international credit rating to junk.

Even if the government does appeal on this ruling, the High Court ruling is likely to delay the nuclear programme by months, if not years. Zuma stepped down as leader of the ruling African National Congress, therefore, the decision as to whether it goes ahead will be left to his successor, Ramaphosa.

The court decision proved that the correct procedures were not followed and that it has been questionable from the start. Zuma was always very keen on the nuclear build programme and it is supposed to be his legacy project. The ruling certainly did not sit easily with him and the question arises, what will he benefit from this and will Ramaphosa get a cut from this deal, if it ever goes through?

The government has not entered into any deal or signed any contract for the procurement of nuclear power, as yet, although there are intergovernmental agreements in place with the US, South Korea, China, Russia, South Africa, and France.

South African citizens are kept, hostage, to give the One Trillion Rand deal approval:

My thinking is that South Africans are played yet again by the ruling ANC party or by certain stakeholders (such as Zuma in particular), because of the current load shedding we experience. Another state capture perhaps? Are we as South African citizens played by Eskom (a state-owned entity) and their stakeholders (ANC cadres), through the current load shedding we experience, thus to support this motion to spend One Trillion Rand?

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