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DA questions nuclear transparency

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The DA is to ask the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, for the full details of the two memoranda of understanding (MOU) signed with Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom) at the BRICS Summit last week.

Gordon Mackay, Shadow Minister of Energy, states that the DA believes signing MOUs of this nature, while a competitive bid process is underway, smacks of “gross impropriety” and “can be seen as nothing more than a crude attempt by the Zuma administration to bolster Rosatom’s bid over potential rivals”.

That these MOUs reportedly speak of co-operation in order to provide training for five categories of specialists for the South African nuclear industry is the clearest indication yet that Rosatom is the preferred bidder,” Mackay says.

“Russia currently produces Water-Water Energetic Reactors (VVER) reactors – while South Africa uses Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR). An expedited training programme on the use of Russian technology, which does not exist in South Africa, can only mean that government anticipates that Russian technology will at some future date be used in South Africa,” he says.

“The MOUs signed by the Minister therefore presuppose the eventuality of the use of Russian technology in South Africa and raise serious doubts about government’s commitment to a competitive and transparent bid process.

“Claims of undue preference and bias are further substantiated by a review of the various international framework agreements signed between South Africa and nuclear vendor nations.”

He adds: “The agreement signed between Rosatom and South Africa differs materially from the other stock standard framework agreements in detail and scope and relies on information that could only have been provided by the South African government.

“Neither the Minister nor the Department of Energy have provided an explanation as to the material and contractual differences enumerated in the Rosatom Framework Agreement.

“Further, had the Minister wanted to promote nuclear education initiatives and public awareness of nuclear in anticipation of an expanded nuclear sector – a far more prudent course of action would have been to partner with established initiatives run by the International Atomic Energy Agency – a non-partisan UN body.

“Such a non-partisan partnering would have been a clear indication of government’s commitment to a competitive and transparent bid process.

“By signing these MOUs the Minister is once again placing the horse before the cart,” Mackay says.