The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development

Nuclear and coal lobbies threaten to scupper renewables in South Africa The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler
Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg June 27, 2017 South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

t has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy….

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive……

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa

There’s more to state capture than meets the eye, News24, Sipho Pityana, 23 June 17, The leadership crisis and the ravaging uncertainty that South Africa is going through now affect all of us.

I say this because the ethical failures committed by Zuma are not confined to the president’s office. They are cascading down, like a disease, into every aspect of South African life. They are killing our country, and killing us with it. Every extra day Zuma remains in power, this erosion continues and our crisis deepens.

Zuma’s strategy is simple: keep the ANC firmly captured by stealing the leadership elections at the party’s elective conference in December, and install his protégé. His successor as president of the ANC – and, subsequently, the country – would make sure that he not only stays out of jail, but also that the state capture project continues unabated…….

 I believe it is true that the fish rots from the head. The problem we face, as South Africans, is that the rot is so advanced that it’s already approaching the tail. And unless we act soon, this beautiful creature that we call South Africa will soon be a rotten pile of bones…..
The state capture project, with Zuma at its epicenter, is effectively an international crime syndicate. It is a global mafia operation involving business and sometimes state interests in China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and several African countries……..

Finally, there is Russia. The Russians have a very, very keen interest in the nuclear energy deals that the president allegedly signed irregularly on our behalf, which our courts have now stalled. There are billions of rands at stake. We have already seen indications that a deal is in the making, and there are consistent allegations that the captains of state capture, Zuma and the Guptas, have already received – or at least stand to get – massive kickbacks from any Russian nuclear energy deal.Given the scale of the deals (estimated at about R1.8 trillion), even a small kickback is going to run into hundreds of millions. And, as we’ve seen from the various reports on state capture – from the SACC, the Public Affairs Research Institute and the former Public Protector herself – the kickbacks are never small.

So if you join the dots: in effect, and based merely on the uncontested evidence we have at hand, we have a president and his cronies who stand at the centre of a global crime network that involves China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.

…….you have a South African president with an even more broken ethical compass than Trump? A president who is prepared to let business interests take precedence over the national interest? A president who is prepared to sell his own country to the highest bidder?……….

 – Pityana is the convenor of the Save South Africa campaign. This is an edited version of a speech on ethics he delivered at the annual meeting of the Marketing Code Authority in Johannesburg on 22 June…….

June 24, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

R1 trillion nuclear power project still happening, says South African President Jacob Zuma

Zuma: The Nuclear Deal Is Still Happening, Folks He says nuclear power stations will eventually bring the country profits once they are built. Huff Post, Amil Umraw, Politics Reporter  23/06/2017 South Africa’s controversial nuclear build programme is still very much on the cards.

In his responses to parliamentary questions on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said government still intends to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country can afford…..

He denied that the deal is going to push the agenda of any country, especially Russia.

However, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi reportedly told a delegation at a nuclear conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the deal would be awarded to the “most experienced people who have a track record”.

Kubayi reportedly met Russian Energy minister Alexander Novak and Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev during her visit. Rosatom is a Russian state company believed to be the strongest contender for the award of the nuclear contract.

The nuclear build programme was dealt a blow by the Cape Town High Court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9 600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The programme is expected to cost the country around R1 trillion.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

President Zuma “knows nothing” about nuclear corruption in South Africa, or his family benefiting

ZUMA ‘HAS NO KNOWLEDGE’ OF HIS FAMILY BENEFITING FROM NUCLEAR PROGRAMME, President Jacob Zuma said the government will pursue a nuclear power project at a pace and scale that the country can afford. Rahima Essop CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma has told the National Assembly he has no knowledge of his family benefitting from South Africa’s proposed nuclear build programme.

He was responding to a question by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, who asked him directly, whether he or any of his family members have received payments related to the project.

Zuma was asked questions about state capture, the recession and his government’s nuclear power ambitions.

The president was terse in his response to Maimane’s frank question about the possibility of corruption in the proposed nuclear build programme.

Zuma said the government would pursue a nuclear power project at a pace and scale that the country could afford.

He also reaffirmed the state’s position that nuclear is a clean and reliable form of energy.

Earlier this year, the Western Cape High Court dealt a legal blow to government’s plans when it found certain agreements related to the project were unconstitutional and unlawful.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma says South Africa is committed to nuclear power expansion

South Africa committed to nuclear power expansion, process to be open – Zuma,

South Africa is committed to an “open, transparent” process to build new nuclear power plants and the government planned to go through with its plans for nuclear expansion, President Jacob Zuma told parliament on Thursday.

South Africa is planning to build 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear capacity, a project that could be one of the world’s biggest nuclear contracts in decades.

But Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Wednesday in Moscow that the plans will be reviewed as the country is in a recession. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia)

June 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment


ROSATOM SAYS IT HAS PLANS TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SA  In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.Tara Penny JOHANNESBURG – Russia’s Rosatom has confirmed it is in contact with South African authorities on plans concerning the civilian use of nuclear energy.

The CEO of Rosatom’s foreign unit, Anastasia Zoteyeva made the comment while answering questions on the sidelines of a conference in Moscow on Monday morning.

She also told reporters that the Russian state nuclear corporation is proposing to develop a whole nuclear cluster in South Africa.

In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Earthlife Africa, which brought the case, said the judgment vindicates its argument that the process government has followed was unlawful because it failed to consult the public about its decision.

The case was first brought in October 2015, when Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute argued that former Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersen had not consulted the public nor Parliament before deciding to procure 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The judgment meant all deals that government had pursued with Russia and the United States were not valid.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom denies any ‘secret deal’ with South Africa

Russia’s Rosatom says no ‘secret deal’ with South Africa Jun 20, 2017, MOSCOW,   – Deputy chief executive officer of Russia’s state nuclear firm Rosatom Kirill Komarov told a briefing on Tuesday that there was no “secret deal” between Russia and South Africa over nuclear projects.


He also said the nuclear pact between two countries from 2014 was standard for such circumstances.

Russia and South Africa discussed joint nuclear projects but those plans were disrupted after South Africa’s High Court deemed a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia unlawful earlier this year. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; writing by Maria Tsvetkova; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)

June 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Chris Yelland on the disadvantages of nuclear power for South Africa

Is nuclear the best option for SA? Flexibility is key in an unpredictable world. Money Web, Roger Lilley  /  1 June 2017  Eskom appears to be more concerned with building new nuclear power stations than in signing power purchase agreements with independent power producers that use renewable energy sources. Energize caught up with energy analyst and managing director of EE Publishers, Chris Yelland, for his opinion on what generation technologies South Africa should opt for.

…….CHRIS YELLAND:…..I am certainly not opposed to a nuclear new-build in South Africa on ideological or technology grounds. But there are real issues that both nuclear and renewable energy proponents must deal with. ….
Firstly, there are public perceptions of political motives, political interference and corruption associated with mega-project procurements. There are widespread public perceptions that things happen in secret behind closed doors, that due process is not being followed, and that there are some rather sinister motives. Whatever we think of these perceptions, whether they are true or not, they actually need to be dealt with.

The high, upfront capital costs, and associated financing and affordability of such mega-projects, is an issue, and one really has to deal with this issue, because it is one of the big drawbacks of nuclear.

We must also fully understand the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from nuclear power over the economic lifetime of the plant, taking into account the overnight capital cost, interest during construction, the fixed and variable operating, maintenance and fuel costs, and the costs of decommissioning and waste disposal. The LCOE indicates the overall cost, in R/kWh of the electricity delivered from a nuclear power plant, in order to be able to compare it properly on a similar basis with other technologies.

Nuclear power stations take a long time to build – up to ten to 12 years per reactor – and mega-projects are prone to high cost and time overruns. These realities cannot simply be ignored.South Africa needs flexibility in an uncertain and unpredictable world, where electricity demand is difficult to predict in the years ahead, and disruptive technologies are on the horizon. Technologies such as wind, solar PV and energy storage may change the rules of the game……..

A tipping point was reached as the price of wind and solar PV energy came crashing down. All of a sudden there are now lower-cost alternatives to new nuclear and new coal power. Nuclear is no longer the least-cost option, and a blend of wind, solar PV, gas and pumped storage can deliver reliable, despatchable, baseload power at lower cost than new nuclear and even new coal power…….

there’s the option of wind, solar PV, gas and pumped storage. This is a low carbon option, just as nuclear is a low carbon option. But it is also an option to deliver reliable, despatchable baseload power in a flexible way at lower cost than the nuclear option. This is what is termed “flexible power”…….

CHRIS YELLAND: In my view, the decline of the coal sector is inevitable, as the world moves away from coal to a cleaner, low-carbon future, both locally and globally.

We live in a global village, and South Africa simply cannot continue to burn coal regardless of the consequences to water use, pollution, health and climate change. The world is expecting us to move to cleaner options, and South Africa has made international commitments to do just this. We need to plan ahead and address these matters going forward. ……

The growth of rooftop solar PV in domestic, commercial and industrial applications has not been considered in the Draft IRP 2016 at all, and yet is a growing and inevitable reality, both globally and in South Africa.

The Department of Energy, Eskom and municipal electricity distributors ignore this growing alternative and supplement to conventional grid electricity at their peril. This is potentially a huge disruptor to the traditional business models of power utilities.

Customers are choosing cleaner and cheaper sources of energy to reduce both their costs and dependency on public utilities. Thus I expect very significant growth in this market as solar PV and battery storage prices continue to drop, while the price of grid electricity continues to rise.Utilities have to sit up and take note. Otherwise they may find themselves in a death spiral, where rising costs of grid power drive their customers away to alternatives. As people move to these alternatives in greater numbers, so the costs of the new alternative technologies come down due to increasing economies of scale. At the same time, in a vicious circle, this further pushes up the price of grid power, as utilities try to recover their fixed cost structure from declining kWh sales volumes.

This really needs to be taken seriously. It has happened in other parts of the world, and it’s not unthinkable that it could happen in South Africa.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear power company Eskom wants a blank cheque from the South African government

Eskom asks Gigaba for blank cheque, news 24, Sipho Masondo

2017-05-28 Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has been asked to approve various components of the nuclear deal and effectively give Eskom a “blank cheque”.

These requests are contained in a letter Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane wrote to Gigaba earlier this month. In the letter, dated May 10, Ngubane also pleads with the minister to intervene in the stand-off between Treasury and Eskom regarding the Gupta family’s Tegeta Mine.

The letter was sent to Gigaba two weeks after the Western Cape High Court’s ruling that key elements of the nuclear deal were unconstitutional.

The letter appears to be an attempt by Ngubane to set a new tone for the relationship from the somewhat tense one that Eskom had with Treasury under ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan. Treasury and Eskom clashed repeatedly in recent years as the former insisted that the power utility abide by the rules and questioned its procurement practices.

 In his letter, Ngubane:

. Asked for a direct line to Gigaba;

. Pleaded with Gigaba to revise the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) or rush to introduce the Procurement Act to enable “radical economic transformation”;

. Requested the finance minister to relax the stringent conditions relating to the extension of the power utility’s R350 billion guarantees;

. Appealed to Gigaba to approve various programmes relating to the nuclear deal. These included exempting Eskom from the PPPFA and the approval of the Standard Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management; and,

. Raised concerns that Treasury had appointed another service provider to review Eskom’s coal contract with Tegeta and that the stand-off between the two parties regarding the power utility’s coal contracts with the Gupta family’s Tegeta mine had been going on for two years……..

ast month, City Press also reported Eskom was set to get the nuclear deal underway in June by issuing a request for proposals.

At that time, sources had told City Press that President Jacob Zuma had removed finance minister Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas because they were opposed to the nuclear deal and were dragging their feet in having it implemented.

After seeing Ngubane’s letter, a source with knowledge of Treasury’s workings said: “Now you know why Gordhan and Jonas were removed. This is the completion of state capture.”

The source said Ngubane and the Eskom leadership wanted the PPPFA to be relaxed “so that they can do as they please with procurement”.

“Why would they want the conditions that come with guarantees to be relaxed? You must remember, for government to give guarantees, there must be stringent conditions. You simply cannot relax them,” he said.

Such conditions, he said, included a corporate plan that should be seen and approved by Treasury, and procurement policies that were in line with the Public Finance Management Act and the PPPFA.

A senior executive at Treasury said: “Baldwin [Ngubane’s middle name] is saying the previous minister was not a friend of Eskom. He was strict and put Eskom under watch through guarantees and other procurement conditions.

“He is asking the new minister to relax conditions, approve the nuclear deal, exempt Eskom from procurement measures and give the favours as outlined in the letter.”

May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: corruption and th ecapture of the State

Betrayal of the Promise: The Anatomy of State Capture  RANJENI MUNUSAMY

South Africans have been bombarded with revelations of how the state has been hijacked to amass wealth for a connected power elite involving President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family. An academic research partnership has consolidated all available information into a frightening compendium on state capture, mapping the deals, the key players and the modus operandi for commandeering control of state institutions and parastatals. Their report shows why it is necessary for a judicial inquiry and criminal prosecution for corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering and, possibly, treason. It also shows the danger of key enablers such as Zuma, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Eskom CEO Brian Molefe remaining in their posts. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

 When President Jacob Zuma executed his most overt act of betrayal of the people and party who put him in power by firing Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas as minister and deputy of finance, he probably did not foresee that this would turn an entire society against him. Opposition parties, the ANC’s alliance partners Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, civil society, business, veterans and stalwarts, religious leaders and now academics are standing up to oppose and expose the Zuma-Gupta contagion.

Last week, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) released a report of an Unburdening Panel comprising evidence of whistle-blowers who approached church leaders about their experiences of state capture. On Thursday, the State Capacity Research Project, a team of leading academics from four universities, released a 72-page report detailing what they call a “silent coup” by an organised criminal network.

Betrayal Of The Promise: How South Africa Is Being Stolen is a report that sought to respond to Gordhan’s challenge to “connect the dots” around all the allegations of state capture and why he and Jonas were fired.

“While corruption is widespread at all levels and is undermining development, state capture is a far greater, systemic threat. It is akin to a silent coup and must, therefore, be understood as a political project that is given a cover of legitimacy by the vision of radical economic transformation. The March 2017 Cabinet reshuffle was confirmation of this silent coup; it was the first Cabinet reshuffle that took place without the full prior support of the governing party.

“This moves the symbiotic relationship between the constitutional state and the shadow state that emerged after the African National Conference (ANC) Polokwane conference in 2007 into a new phase. The reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom’s chief executive officer (CEO) a few weeks later in defiance of the ANC confirms this trend,” the report states.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s anti nuclear movement renews its campaign

Group that ended Eskom’s nuclear bid plans next move   Matthew le Cordeur   May 28 2017 Cape Town – The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) has moved on from its court victory over government and Eskom in April, which set aside the nuclear procurement programme.

High court ruling on nuclear was a victory for SA – Liziwe McDaid

A month after winning the court bid, Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid said the victory opened space for other civil society organisations to come together to keep the nuclear programme from moving forward.

McDaid, who was engaging with stakeholders in Khayelitsha last week, told Fin24 that the court victory was a major boost in bringing other stakeholders together.

“For civil society, this has opened a space,” she said. “It has meant that organisations involved in child care, youth work (and) social justice have realised what the impact of such a deal could have on their work.

“Right now, it’s up to civil society to consolidate that gain, to spread that message and to mobilise going forward.”

McDaid said Safcei would focus its attention on the Department of Energy’s draft integrated resource plan and energy plan, which is currently undergoing stakeholder engagement and public hearings.

“One of our critical areas is the electricity plan, which was five years out of date,” she said. “We want to make sure that process runs properly and that renewable energy is given its proper place, because we want to see South Africa move into the future.

“The future energy is definitely renewable and not nuclear,” she said. Continue reading

May 31, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear build plans – ripe for corruption

How SA’s nuclear plant build could fuel corruption The government can restrict public and parliamentary oversight by using arguments on national security, Business Day, 23 MAY 2017 7 NEIL OVERYThe construction of a nuclear power plant is considered to be a megaproject – characterised as a significant investment, as being highly complex organisationally and technically and as having a long-lasting effect on the economy, society and the environment.

International experience shows that such projects are prime targets for corruption. Their size, complexity and longevity create thousands of contractual links — between the customer, contractor, sub-contractors, co-ordinating project offices, etc — each of which present an opportunity for corruption. A recent local example is the corruption that plagued phase 1 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Allied to this is the potential problem of central government involvement. Energy projects in particular tend to be centrally managed by governments and, by necessity, afford senior public officials discretionary powers over projects.

The construction of a nuclear power plant is particularly problematic as governments can use issues of alleged national security to restrict public and even parliamentary oversight.

In SA, apartheid-era legislation such as the National Key Points Act of 1980 could be used to withhold information about any new nuclear power plant being constructed. As Right2Know has said, “historically, the National Key Points Act has been used and abused to stifle access to information”.

In the alleged interests of national security, information about corruption (think Nkandla) or a radioactive leak could be hidden from the public. The situation is made worse by the fact that there is no public interest defence for whistleblowers in terms of the National Key Points Act.

Nuclear power plant construction is also open to corruption because of the information asymmetry between the vendor and the buyer.

SA is not able to build nuclear power plants on its own and lacks the necessary information on the technical complexity of construction processes. This means that the vendor can be confident that the buyer is not fully aware of all the features and financing needs of the power plant, creating opportunities for graft by the vendor.

The type of construction model signed with vendors can also have an effect on corruption. SA’s nuclear build front-runner Rosatom offers various models. According to Phumzile Tshelane, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, the country prefers the build, own and transfer model in terms of which vendors and states work in joint venture partnerships to build and operate power plants that are eventually transferred to recipient states.

At first glance, this looks like the best model for SA because it means that anything between 25% and 50% of project implementation and construction jobs will be localised. However, in SA, where according to Transparency International, both the public and private sectors are endemically corrupt, such a model creates numerous opportunities for rent-seeking.

Already, we have seen a R171m deal for the “procurement of the nuclear build programme management system” awarded to a company called Central Lake Trading 149 that is run by the son of Vivian Reddy, long-time associate of President Jacob Zuma. While there is no indication of anything suspicious in this deal, it demonstrates the kind of opportunities created……..

How nuclear procurement has been handled to date in the country shows just how far the government has departed from best practice.

Firstly, the government has failed to show that the nuclear build is necessary. Its own  Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy recommends that no new nuclear power capacity is necessary in SA for the foreseeable future.

This view is confirmed by Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) modelling, which shows that no new nuclear power is necessary until at least 2050 (the date their modelling ended). Prof Anton Eberhard of the University of Cape Town has described the state’s determination to  pursue the nuclear procurement as “irrational”.

Secondly, the government has not properly assessed alternative ways of meeting the  perceived need.

While it has considered renewable energy options, it has done so in a fashion that artificially constrains their potential.

The government’s draft 2016 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) places completely arbitrary limits on the amount of renewable energy that can be delivered in SA despite there being, according to the CSIR, no technical reason for this.

Energy expert Chris Yelland has stated that the constraints imposed in the IRP are the result of “a political decision rather than a rational planning decision”.

Thirdly, project costs and benefits have not been estimated accurately throughout their complete life cycles.

Energy experts throughout SA agree that the draft 2016 IRP underestimates the cost of nuclear power and overestimates the cost of renewables.

The IRP suggests a cost of R0.97/kWh for new nuclear power. The CSIR has found that the “most optimistic” cost would be R1.17/kWh, while research carried out by EE Publishers suggested R1.30/kWh.

None of these calculations factor in the considerable extra costs of nuclear fuel, routine plant maintenance and refurbishment, decommissioning, or the long-term disposal of nuclear waste. For renewables, the IRP gives a price of R0.81/kWh for solar and R0.93/kWh for wind, while the CSIR shows that both now cost R0.62/kWh, with prices continuing to fall.

Lastly, particular suppliers have been favoured and deals have been reached without proper oversight.

The recent court case between the Department of Energy and Earthlife Africa-Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute demonstrates this.

The judges in the case found that Rosatom had been favoured over other potential vendors as a “a firm legal commitment existed between SA’s government and Rosatom in terms of the Intergovernmental Agreement signed with Russia in 2014”. An agreement that the judges found, “clearly required to be scrutinised and debated by the legislature” and was in breach of section 10 of the National Energy Regular Act, which calls for participatory decision-making processes.

New Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi recently stated that new agreements will be signed with nuclear vendors but that she did not want to find herself “in court every day”.

She could heed best practice and ensure that before any procurement proceeds, an anti-corruption plan is in place between the government, the vendor and civil society.

This should identify where corruption could take place, make recommendations for mitigating it and should be regularly reviewed during each phase of project implementation. Transparency International calls these plans “integrity pacts” and they have been successfully implemented in 15 countries in more than 300 procurement projects.

Sadly, in the current climate, it seems inconceivable that either Eskom or Rosatom (or any other vendor) would agree to be held accountable to civil society, such is the headlong charge for nuclear power in SA.

• Dr Overy is a freelance environmental researcher.

May 24, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Timeline of the decline of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma

The descent of Jacob Zuma in 31 steps and counting, Daily Maverick, KAVISHA PILLAY AND MARK HEYWOOD, SOUTH AFRICA, 23 MAY 2017

Last week, the Constitutional Court heard arguments that Parliament should either allow for, or be ordered to conduct, a secret ballot when MPs are voting in a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma. The hearing came after a weekend of storms covered large parts of the country, marking the start of winter. By contrast the President’s winter started way before the end of summer. He now seems enmeshed in a hurricane of discontent.

  Below is a timeline of exactly two months and 31 significant developments leading up to and shortly after the court hearing. It shows how the President and his cronies have been taking punches from all corners, with groups from every sector of society – including the ANC itself – now calling on the President to step down amidst allegations of corruption and state capture. The space for looting the state appears to be closing. The fight back against state capture is well under way. But with the pace of politics accelerating it won’t be over until either Parliament or the ANC itself removes Zuma and his associates from office.

17 March:……..

28 March…..

29 March:…..   to 23 May…….

The timeline we have laid out is growing by the day. President Zuma’s responses – claiming the country is not in crisis – suggest that he is oblivious to his loss of power and influence. They are not a sign of strength but a diagnosis of denialism. They point to a President who, like his colleague across the Limpopo River, is now so punch-drunk that he is unable to recognise the reality of the crisis he has provoked. However, weakened though he and his faction may be, the decisive punch must still be landed.

In this regard the next two months may prove decisive. Whilst the judgment of the Constitutional Court will be hugely important in setting the rules for the vote of no confidence its outcome will be a gauge of the commitment of the ANC to the Constitution versus its commitment to itself. It will be a test as to whether its current leaders have the moral courage of their forebears. If the ANC wants to avoid the humiliation of its President in Parliament its last and only alternative is to remove him at the ANC NEC meeting on the 26-28 of May.

We will all we watching. We will be hoping. We will be expecting you to do the right thing.

Our futures depend on it. DM

May 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Eskom protesting a bit too much that South Africa’s nuclear negotiations are squeaky clean?

No corruption in nuclear negotiations, Eskom chief nuclear officer assures Engineering News, 18TH MAY 2017 BY: KIM CLOETE CREAMER MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer David Nicholls is still firmly committed to the principle that nuclear is the way to go for a sustainable energy future and says he knows of no corruption in negotiations on a deal to procure new nuclear energy capacity.

“I’ve been in the middle of this deal for years. People are talking about secret Russian deals. Show me the secret plan signed with the Russians. I have no knowledge of a secret plan,” he told delegates attending a special session on nuclearat the African Utility Week, in Cape Town, on Thursday…….

The nuclear session was attended by both sides of the nucleardebate and follows soon after a High Court ruling against plans to issue a contract for the construction of a fleet of nuclear power plants in South Africa without proper public consultation with stakeholders.

Nicholls said the court case “had not made a comment on the goodness or badness [of nuclear energy]. It has made a comment on the process that was followed.”

He added that the nuclear issue had become “emotional”, given that so much money was involved…..

May 19, 2017 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | Leave a comment

South Afric a’s formidable anti nuclear women ready to take on the government again

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock
A chat with the ladies who said no to nuclear
Meet the women who stopped the nuclear deal Alet Janse van Rensburg, Kate Davies. Liz McDaid. Vainola Makan. Siphokazi Pangalele. Lydia Mogane. Makoma Lekalakala. Natasha Adonis.

These are some of the women whose names will go down in history for saving South Africa (for now, at least) from a disastrous nuclear deal with Russia that would’ve cost us trillions and most likely bankrupted the country.

For more than two years they lived and breathed the nuclear deal, getting up while it’s still dark to attend meetings, and going to bed after midnight to organise pickets, protests, public meetings and petitions. None of them would even attempt to calculate how much time went into the effort.

Yet, true to form, none of them wants the credit for the court victory that nullified the nuclear deal. “It was easy. It was easy to identify with because it was about our children’s future and our children’s children’s future,” says Makan (50), an activist from Right to Know (R2K) in Cape Town.

“You want to see your grandchildren live in a world free from these bad things. The legacy you leave for the next generation is what drives you. Maybe women are closer to that, bearing the burden of child birth,” says McDaid (55), spokesperson for the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei).

Davies (65), founder of Safcei, agrees that although the campaign against the nuclear deal was never meant to be a women’s effort, it certainly was driven by a group of very dedicated women.

“I come from a generation that had a lot of women who were involved in the Black Sash in our lives,” she says. “I myself was a young member of the Black Sash and so that kind of silent protest came naturally to me – something I fear the younger generations don’t know.”

It all started in 2014 when Earthlife Africa uncovered that South Africa signed a deal with Russia that nobody knew about to procure nuclear energy. Earthlife Africa started a legal process with Safcei. Kate started a vigil outside Parliament every Wednesday for when the ministers would arrive.

This vigil only ended last week after the Cape High Court ruled that all nuclear agreements made so far were unlawful and should be set aside.

“For more than two years we stood there every week to speak truth to power. Sometimes there were two people in the wind and rain. Sometimes there were 20 or 50 people. Sometimes it was only Kate. That was about knowing we could win, but that it’s a long haul and that we just had to keep going step by step,” says McDaid.

Initially the focus was on nuclear energy as an environmental issue.

“We were worried about the footprint of different energy types and the impact of high energy prices on the poor. That’s why we started asking how government makes decisions about our energy needs and that’s when we started realising that the decision making processes weren’t happening as they were supposed to,” says McDaid.

“When you look at the CSIR and the research that has been done, it’s very clear that nuclear is not needed for our energy future. So then the question becomes, why are we pushing for it? The obvious answer is that there are corrupt forces at play. From there it was a case of following the money.”

As they prepared for the court case, they started working with other organisations such as R2K, Open Democracy, Section27 and the trade unions. They held a coalition meeting at Community House in Cape Town and more than 20 organisations showed up to find out how they could help. R2K came on board, and started to roll out mass actions, attending parliamentary meetings, organising marches to Parliament and distributing pamphlets and petitions.

“They say when you have faith in little you can be trusted with much. It was only a few of us who stood in Parliament to fight for the cause, but when the 60 000 came, we were confident that we could handle it and we had faith in our message,” says Makan.

They also realised early on that they would need the public to buy into the process and needed a media expert, so they roped in the expertise of Adonis (41), who runs her own PR firm in Cape Town.

“I wasn’t interested in the nuclear deal or anything before I came on board,” she says. “I think one of the core problems was that it was out there, but people weren’t paying attention. So we had to get the average South African – who was me – to notice the campaign.”

When they heard they won the case last Friday (with costs!), they were ecstatic.

“The process was vindicated. The legal process was won and we had the hearts and the minds of the people behind us. In the lead up with the firing of Pravin Gordhan we had people in the streets and with Ahmed Kathrada’s memorial nuclear was a central theme. So legally, politically and in terms of the minds of people we were vindicated,” says Makan.

“We know that they’re still not going to do things on a moral basis. But politically, because of the balance of forces, and because we are going to continue to work against any deal, it will be much harder for them to do a deal with Russia.”

What is clear is that going forward any attempt to go through with the nuclear deal will have to include a public participation process and now that the public is thoroughly informed, it will be much harder for them to push the deal through.

According to Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala, while the court victory was expected, it only ruled on the unlawful procedure followed to procure nuclear and not the actual issue of nuclear energy. That is something that will have to be addressed going forward.

“We are for a greater investment in renewable energy, as it’s much cheaper and cleaner for the environment,” she says.

The others agree.

“We will have to educate the public. Going forward we will continue to encourage South Africans to be active citizens. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cleaner at a factory, or a street sweeper or a CEO, you have the right to say something about how things are being done in your country. The Constitution gives you that right,” says Adonis.

And while the victory in court was a major achievement for the team, it was a victory for every South African citizen.

“This judgement shows you that you can win and that you can make a difference and that the country will not be sold to the highest bidder. The people can govern,” says McDaid.

As for the tremendous display of “girl power”, the women are adamant that there are many men that they could not have done it without. There is, however, an immense sense of pride in what they’ve achieved. Let this victory serve as a reminder to anyone who tries to pull the wool over South Africans’ eyes again, that if you strike a woman, you strike a rock

May 15, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment