Groundup, Daily Maverick, 6 February, 2017.
Litigants say making Eskom the nuclear procurer raises serious questions about the financial implications and price of electricity, and should have been open to public scrutiny. The court ordered a postponement to February 22 to allow litigants to examine new developments. By Melanie Gosling for GROUNDUP.
First published by GroundUp
Eskom will not oppose court action challenging the legality of government decisions around the procurement process for a fleet of new nuclear reactors. The utility said in papers filed in the Western Cape High Court that it would abide by the court’s decision in this matter.
This is the latest development in court action by NGOs Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, which are taking the government to court over what they claim are unlawful decisions around the nuclear procurement process.
Eskom’s decision not to enter the legal fray comes after it was added as a respondent in the court proceedings last week. This was done after Cabinet had decided during court proceedings late last year that Eskom, not the Department of Energy, would now be in charge of procuring new nukes.
Litigants learned about this change at the hearing on December 13 when the government’s legal team told the court that Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson had made a new determination under the Electricity Regulation Act, designating Eskom as the procurer of the 9600MW of new nuclear plants, “making the utility responsible for the largest procurement in South Africa’s history”, papers said.
Litigants say making Eskom the nuclear procurer raises serious questions about the financial implications and price of electricity, and should have been open to public scrutiny. The court ordered a postponement to February 22 to allow litigants to examine this new development.
Although both NGOs are anti-nuclear, they are not asking the court to decide on the merits of nuclear power, nor whether South Africa needs it, but whether government’s decisions around the nuclear procurement programme are lawful and in keeping with the Constitution, and whether the South African public, part of a participatory democracy, should have been allowed to make representations on the nuclear procurement process.
Here is the full article