NEWS & ANALYSIS

Russian nuclear deal: The questions that need answering - Lance Greyling

DA MP says the ANC govt's current silence on the matter is unacceptable

Russian nuclear deal: DA calls for an urgent meeting of Energy Committee

Today, the DA will write to the Chairperson of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Energy, Mr Fikile Zacharia Majola, requesting an urgent sitting of the portfolio committee in accordance with rule 132 (2)(a) read with rule 138 (g) of Parliament, so that the committee may urgently address South Africa's reported nuclear agreement with Russia. 

The Chairperson must also immediately summon the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to appear before the committee. 

According to reports, yesterday, Minister Pettersson committed South Africa to an agreement with Russian state owned company, Rosatom, for the construction of 8 nuclear facilities. 

No official communication has been made from the Presidency, the Department of Energy or the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on the agreement - fuelling speculation as to the contents of the agreement. 

Indeed, to bind South Africa to the agreement, Minister Pettersson would require authorisation from the Presidency. The current radio silence observed by the State is cause for serious concern as to whether proper process was followed in formulating and concluding the agreement.

We have serious concerns about this agreement. Last year, an unsigned draft agreement sought to give Russia exclusive rights for the construction of nuclear plants in South Africa by committing government to securing consent from Russia should South Africa wish to enter into any other agreements with third-country organisations or countries.

Indeed, such an agreement may undermine South Africa's bilateral commitments on nuclear energy with other nations and would indeed act against South Africa's national interest - limiting our ability to effectively negotiate and plan procurement of nuclear capacity from third parties. 

Government's current silence on the matter is unacceptable and speaks to an ANC government that attempts to avoid accountability to the South African people at every turn. 

Parliament, as the body responsible for ensuring effective oversight over members of the executive must now be seized with gaining and examining details to this agreement. 

Particularly, the committee must  demand that the Minister: 

Clarify the status of the agreement between Rosatom and South Africa; 

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

Provide all necessary documentation relating to the agreement so as to allow the committee to exhaustively examine:

What process was followed in the approval of the agreement; 

Whether the agreement is in the best interest of South Africa;

Whether we can afford it; and 

Whether it will address the current energy crisis in a way that is affordable and timeous. 

The DA further believes that the deliberations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Energy Security, which is chaired by the President and where the nuclear programme was extensively debated, must be made public as soon as possible. The DA will therefore seek to ensure these documents are made public, so that South Africans can be made aware of all the implications that this deal will have on our electricity prices and our economic prospects. 

Parliament must not fail to act, and must enforce open and accountable governance practices from the executive. 

Statement issued by Lance Greyling MP, DA Shadow Minister of Energy, September 23 2014

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter