Carol Paton, BDLive, 31 March, 2016.
NEW proof has emerged that SA intended to sign a binding deal with Russia to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors, bypassing public finance management rules along the way.
This is contained in court papers lodged on Wednesday by the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Initiative and Earthlife Africa in the High Court in Cape Town.
The lobby groups, which are asking the court to declare the inter-governmental agreements on nuclear energy signed in 2014 unlawful, secured the new information through court processes that compelled the government to provide the record of decisions on the deal.
Among the records provided is an explanatory memorandum drafted by the state law adviser in November 2013 on the draft Russian deal, which makes clear — they say — that the deal was “intended” and was “understood as creating a firm commitment that Russia would construct the required nuclear plants in SA”.
The state law adviser’s memo has been long sought by the media and opponents of the forthcoming nuclear procurement as it was widely rumoured at the time that the office had given a strong warning that the proposed agreement was binding in nature, had budgetary implications and had to be debated publicly before it could be adopted…
Supplementary papers lodged in court on Wednesday argue that the state law adviser’s opinion “confirms the plain meaning of the obligation created by the Russian inter-governmental agreement … and the binding nature and specificity of the agreement reached”.
It was this opinion that is believed to have caused both then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the then energy minister Ben Martins to oppose the signing of the agreement. Both were subsequently moved out of their positions by President Jacob Zuma in May 2014. Then director-general of energy Nelisiwe Magubane was a third casualty of the drama and quit after coming under pressure to support the agreement.
Opposition from Mr Martins, Mr Gordhan, and senior government officials to the agreement had the effect of postponing the signing for almost a year. In September 2014, with new Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in place, SA and Russian-owned energy firm Rosatom signed a new version of the deal in Brussels…
Read the full article here.