Newly appointed chairperson of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) board Rob Adam has been hailed as “highly credible” and the new board members “substantive”, but an immediate plan of action should be detailed on how to turn the corporation around.
Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe removed and replaced the entire board of the state nuclear energy entity, as well as suspending the firm’s chief executive, announcing a new board and interim CEO yesterday in Pretoria.
He said the board and its CEO had failed to execute the government firm’s statutory mandate in a “satisfactory and prudent manner”, while some former board members had shown blatant “acts of defiance”.
Necsa is responsible for exporting radioisotopes that are used in medicines, such as cancer treatments, while promoting research and development in nuclear energy.
The former board was, however, responsible for the halt in production of radioisotopes at the firm’s subsidiary, NTP.
After being requested to furnish reasons as to why the board should not be relieved from their positions, Radebe said the ministry was not convinced by the members’ responses and resolved to dissolve the entire board.
“In a meeting with the Necsa board, both myself and Deputy Minister Thembisile Majola emphatically expressed our concerns about the board’s failure in its statutory duties to address the very serious transgressions and failures raised above.”
Former Necsa executive and group executive in the nuclear sector Rob Adam was appointed as chair of the board, an appointment that was welcomed by industry experts.
Des Muller, director of NuEnergy Developments, said the new board was “substantive” and standard procedures were followed before the appointments. The sudden removal would not, however, have an effect on the firm or the nuclear industry, he told The Citizen.
“No effect at all. The removal is something that happens in government and the new board in place is substantive.
“I am not concerned. Necsa has been fine in the recent months, except the period where it shut down for safety reasons but [the issues] were resolved and the plant was back in service.”
But Radebe should give a detailed plan if he is to fix the firm, and clear instructions should be given to the new board, despite the new chairperson being highly credible, DA shadow minister of energy Gwen Ngwenya told The Citizen.
“The board and the ministry need to determine what they are looking to fix as their first point of action. We need details of the immediate plan of action to turn the situation at Necsa around.
“The new chairperson is a highly credible individual and we look forward to working with him,” Ngwenya said.
Radebe made an about-turn on South Africa’s commitment to a nuclear energy deal with Russia since being appointed as energy minister by President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying the deal was too expensive.