NEWS & ANALYSIS

Nuclear deal: Energy dept's promise of transparency rings hollow - Lance Greyling

DA MP says agreement with Russian needs to be made public and thoroughly scrutinised

Energy Department's commitment to nuclear transparency rings hollow

01 October 2014

The Department of Energy's commitment to complete transparency over the nuclear deal between South Africa and Russia - which it vaguely claims only refers to decisions that the government might take in future on nuclear energy - amounts to an empty promise. 

The DA simply does not accept the Department's line that they will decide what information is relevant to the public. 

For this reason, we have already submitted a PAIA application to obtain all the documents and discussions that took place in the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Energy Security. 

I will also continue to press the Chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Energy, Fikile Zacharia Majola, to summon the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to appear before the committee and produce the full text of the agreement that has been signed with Russia. 

The department's refusal to accede to Parliamentary oversight, citing the excuse of proprietary knowledge, does little to allay fears about the legitimacy of the agreement, its effect on the taxpayer and its implications for stable power generation in South Africa. 

The fact of the matter is that a draft agreement was drawn up with Russia last year that included a veto clause over any other country wanting to do nuclear business with us. The DA therefore believes that this latest agreement needs to be thoroughly scrutinised to ensure that this agreement does not make a mockery of our public procurement process. 

The department further stated that it would not be making available the nuclear procurement roadmap, thereby preventing the public from understanding all of the challenges and implications of a procurement of this size. 

It is simply not enough for the public to be made aware of government's decisions - with no opportunity for Parliament and the public to scrutinise the matter. The South African people need to be made aware of the implications of decisions before they are in fact taken.

It is interesting to note that the Minister was conspicuously absent from the briefing and that it was left up to the Acting Director General, Wolsey Barnard, to clear up the confusion. It seems strange that they would arrange a briefing at a time when the Minister could seemingly not be available to account for her actions that caused our current predicament. 

The DA will ensure all measures are taken to prevent South Africans from being railroaded into a nuclear deal that could jeopardise the future of our economy.  

Statement issued by Lance Greyling MP, DA Shadow Minister of Energy, October 1 2014

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