NEWS & ANALYSIS

Joemat-Pettersson reportedly signed Russian nuclear agreement in secret - Lance Greyling

DA MP says minister's actions may have violated the 2006 Manual on Executive Acts of the Office of the President of South Africa

The Energy Minister needs to finally come clean on the Russian Nuclear Agreement

09 October 2014

The DA is extremely concerned over reports that the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, signed the latest agreement with Russia in secret and without the involvement of other departmental or diplomatic staff in attendance. 

In addition, the DA's investigations have revealed that the Minister may not have consulted with the Office of the State Law Advisor at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). This would be in violation of the terms of procedure for concluding international agreements as set out in Chapter 5 of the 2006 Manual on Executive Acts of the Office of the President of South Africa.

All of this adds to the suspicious nature of this deal, and the speculation that it is not just a framework agreement, but rather one that binds us to procuring nuclear reactors from Russia. 

It is therefore time for the Minister to finally end her silence on this issue and provide clarity on what exactly has been signed with Russia. 

Ever since this agreement was signed, the Minister has been noticeably absent, refusing to answer any questions over it. This is deeply suspicious to the DA, particularly given that she seems to be the only one to have actually seen this agreement. 

We therefore call on the Minister to: 

Provide details on what authority, if any, was acquired in concluding this agreement;

Clarify whether she did in fact obtain advice from the state law advisors prior to her signing this agreement;

Provide Parliament with all the necessary documentation relating to this agreement in line with the provisions stipulated in the Constitution.

The DA is already on record to confirm that we will submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain every document upon which Minister Joemat-Pettersson relied in concluding this agreement, as well as the agreement itself. 

The DA has also written to the Chairperson of the Energy Committee, Fikile Majola, calling on him to summon the Minister and force her to bring the agreement before the committee, for thorough scrutiny. 

The DA will simply not accept the word of the Minister's departmental officials concerning the provisions of this agreement. She is the one that signed it in secret and it is for the Minister to finally explain what exactly she signed. 

The DA also does not accept the argument of the department that the agreement cannot be made public because of confidential commercial knowledge contained within it, as a mere framework agreement should not contain such information. 

In this regard the DA will be submitting a number of written questions to try and get to the bottom of what exactly was signed with Russia, whether the requisite authority was obtained beforehand, and precisely why it is not being submitted to Parliament in line with the requirements of the Constitution. 

With South Africa facing massive power constraints and higher electricity prices pressuring South African pockets, the Minister must act in an open and accountable manner to the South African public on a deal that will have massive implications for our economy.

Statement issued by Lance Greyling MP, DA Shadow Minister of Energy, October 9 2014

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