No matter what Minister of Energy David Mahlobo tries to make the R1 trillion nuclear deal happen before President Jacob Zuma goes, civil society groups and opposition parties are ready to challenge it.
The minister’s decision to fast-track the finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to mid-November, at least four months before the expected date, has ratcheted up concerns. Both civil society and the Democratic Alliance said there had been no public consultation, which was central to a Cape High Court ruling early this year.
The judgment was a sequel to an application submitted in 2015 by Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).
The court ruled that the nuclear programme was unconstitutional and unlawful. Judge Lee Bozalek found government had flouted due process, which included the need for public participation, and that it had to be debated in Parliament first.
Yesterday SAFCEI and Earthlife reiterated that the 9.6GW of nuclear power which government wants was not just unaffordable, it was also not needed.
Earthlife’s Makoma Lekalakala said: “Our view is that Mahlobo was made minister of energy because he is loyal to the president. He came in to ensure the nuclear reactors are built.”
Mahlobo’s spokesperson, Nomvula Khalo, said he had to deliver on the energy programme as a whole, not just nuclear.
However, SAFCEI’s climate change and energy programme leader Liz MacDaid said Mahlobo’s latest move seemed to ignore that South Africans had to have input.
“In that case we have to resort to the courts again,” MacDaid added.
Lekalakala said court would be a last resort, but Mahlobo’s attitude was contrary to the spirit of the ruling. Khalo said the process would consider public input, adding: “Why should the minister wait if he can deliver now.”
The DA’s Gordon Mackay pointed out it had to be proven there had been public consultation. He added that the DA would interdict the new IRP if it was too far from the original.