Nuclear deal decision ‘irrational’ – DA

FILE PICTURE: An aerial view of South Africa's Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 30km north of Cape Town. Picture: Gallo Images

The DA was concerned “Parliament is being sidelined by Cabinet” in the country’s biggest public procurement deal.

The South African Cabinet’s decision to go ahead with nuclear procurement worth a trillion rand and bypass parliamentary processes doesn’t make sense and is “irrational”, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said.

Gordon Mackay, the DA Shadow Minister of Energy said late on Monday that this decision to “proceed with the procurement of 9600 MW of additional nuclear capacity is utterly inexplicable” especially given the country’s current economic climate.

He noted that government still has to “complete and make publicly available a detailed cost analysis, detail the impact of nuclear procurement on the long-term price of electricity for consumers, or await the findings of the Cape High Court as to the legality of the pre-procurement phase (which itself is yet to be completed).”

Mackay questioned how could government steam ahead with a nuclear deal “without critical information.” He said this decision to do so was “blatantly irrational in light of South Africa’s very real and worsening economic challenges following the President’s bungle in the dismissal of Minister of Finance and the subsequent muddle.”

Questions of the legality of Cabinet’s decision have arisen. Mackay said such a decision should be in line with the Public Finance Management Act which “requires National Treasury sign-off of any major public procurement.”

He said to date, other than the R200 million “for preparatory work for potential nuclear procurement during the Medium Term Policy Statement (MTBPS) in November – no such sign-off has been provided by National Treasury.”

Mackay said Cabinent should be mindful that the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court ruled unambiguously that “decisions of government must be seen to be rational to be considered valid.”

On Monday, the new Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan announced that South Africa would go ahead with the nuclear deal.

Mackay said the DA was concerned “Parliament is being sidelined by Cabinet” in the country’s biggest public procurement deal.

He recalled that in August earlier this year, Energy Portfolio Committee Chairman Fikile Majola “promised public hearings on nuclear procurement before the end of 2015” and in October, National Treasury Director-General Lungisa Fuzile “stated unequivocally that government would not proceed with the Nuclear New Build programme without parliamentary approval.”

Neither of these events have taken place, Mackay said.

“It is clear that President Zuma and his Cabinet are intent on by-passing parliamentary oversight in their ill-advised pursuit of an additional 9600 MW of nuclear capacity,” he added.

Mackay said the DA “will not stand for this” and would take their concerns to the Minister of EnergyTina Joemat-Pettersson and the Portfolio Committee Chair.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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