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South Africa’s Energy Minister – nuclear build will push ahead, regardless of the correct planning system

Nuclear will happen, Fin 24, Dec 10 2017   Dewald van Rensburg  Johannesburg -South Africa would procure several thousand megawatts of new nuclear power generation capacity, new Energy Minister David Mahlobo declared this week.

He would not say exactly how much, but seemingly intends for nuclear to be 20% of the local power supply by 2030……..

This will result in anything between R25 billion and R50 billion more being spent per year on power in South Africa by 2030 – compared with what would happen under a “least cost” strategy involving no new nuclear and no new coal stations, said Bischof-Niemz.

The wide range is due to the question mark over the cost of nuclear.

Having 20% of power come from nuclear was always the plan and was never really up for consultation, Mahlobo said this week.

On Tuesday, he subjected nongovernmental organisations to a two-hour lecture, and then proceeded to give journalists almost the same lecture at a bizarre and hastily arranged energy indaba on Thursday.

This apparent repudiation of South Africa’s existing system for planning energy investments was presented as obvious and uncontested.

Everyone else just misunderstood South Africa’s energy policy, said the former security minister who inherited the energy portfolio after President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle last month.

Mahlobo used the indaba to quietly announce that the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) had already been approved by Cabinet and that there would be no more consultations on it.

This was not said in the main plenary attended by more than 700 people, but told to journalists at a press conference afterwards that was mostly attended by Mahlobo’s staff, who applauded his answers to the journalists’ questions…….

The official programme was a strange mishmash of presentations and then parallel “commissions” to separately discuss coal, renewable energy, gas, liquid fuels and nuclear.

In the commission on renewable energy, the room was awkwardly silent when moderator Nelisiwe Magubane started the session by instructing everyone that “this is not a platform to discuss the IRP”.

There were chuckles and sighs in the room.

When she asked why no one had any questions, there were murmurs: “They’re all about the IRP!”

When a delegate pointed out that the IRP was central to the discussion, Magubane said that it could not be discussed because “the minister had a meeting with civil society and indicated this is not part of the consultation on the IRP”.

At this point, no one in the room knew that Cabinet had already approved the IRP and precluded any further consultations anyway.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed this, and said it was not mentioned in the normal Cabinet statement issued this week because it was felt that Mahlobo should announce it.

The news turns the long battle around energy policy on its head and will almost certainly lead to a new court challenge from environmental groups, which earlier this year succeeded in getting the old decision to procure 9 600MW of nuclear scrapped in court.

Up to now, the expectation had been that a new draft IRP would be produced and offer various options and scenarios for future power investments, followed by extensive public consultations.

Not so, said Mahlobo.

According to the minister, the original IRP of 2010 is still in effect and the apportionment of power sources set in 2010 remains the target.

All that will have changed from the original 2010 IRP is the overall forecast of national power demand, Mahlobo said.

This has two major effects – it demotes renewables back down to 9% of the mix and promotes nuclear back up to 20%.

Modelling done early this year with the latest technology costs created a “least cost” outcome that excludes nuclear and massively scales up renewables, which have become far cheaper in recent years……

A draft IRP released late last year was pilloried for setting arbitrary limits on renewables, which had the effect of putting nuclear back into the energy mix the mathematical model proposes.

The department of energy has since refused to provide documentation on how it modelled the cost of nuclear or to justify its limits on renewables, fuelling speculation that the IRP was being rigged to facilitate a nuclear deal.

“Nuclear, we are going to do it,” Mahlobo told journalists.

According to the minister, there will be new nuclear plants in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape…….https://www.fin24.com/Economy/nuclear-will-happen-20171210-2

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December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister agrees to follow proper process, on nuclear power development

Business Report 29th Nov 2017, A court challenge to block the South African government from rushing
through a nuclear procurement deal was postponed on Wednesday after Energy
Minister David Mahlobo agreed to follow proper process.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA-JHB) and the Southern African Faith Communities’
Environment Institute (SAFCEI) in April won a Cape Town high order stating
that nuclear procurment would not be legal without involving the National
Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) and public participation. “SAFCEI
and ELA came back to court to ask the minsiter of Energy and Eskom to agree
to abide by the court ruling we got in April which said that they may not
procure nuclear energy without proper process and that includes involving
all of us – public participation – in the decision-making process,” SAFCEI
executive director Francesca de Gasparis said.
https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/energy/ngos-take-on-sa-energy-minister-on-nuclear-power-12194414

December 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s anti nuclear movement ready for President Zuma’s next pro nuclear move

Zuma’s ANC countdown puts anti-nuclear groups on high alert, Fin 24, Nov 29 2017 , Matthew le Cordeur, 

WITH the countdown to the African National Congress (ANC) elective conference having started, civil society is on high alert that President Jacob Zuma – and his supportive Energy Minister, David Mahlobo – will sign a deal with the Russians to build a fleet of nuclear power stations. Fin24’s Matthew le Cordeur explains…

THE level of anxiety regarding a possible nuclear deal being struck before the year is up has been evident with the media analysis on Mahlobo’s every utterance, civil societies’ concern regarding an energy indaba next week and Wednesday’s urgent court interdict against a nuclear deal rushing ahead.

The unproven and denied allegation that Zuma has been bribed with billions of dollars by the Russians as part of a “secret nuclear deal” has driven the debate against nuclear energy in recent years. Zuma himself said South Africa is committed to procuring nuclear energy at a “pace and scale South Africa can afford”.

However, if the allegations are true, the ANC elective conference from December 16 to 20 is a major deadline for the “secret deal” to go through. If Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds Zuma as ANC president, the nuclear plans will likely be scrapped because it is seen as fiscal suicide by Ramaphosa’s faction.

If the allegations are true and if Zuma feels threatened by Ramaphosa’s chances of a victory, it would make sense to sign a nuclear procurement deal with Rosatom before then.

The official nuclear procurement programme run by Eskom this year would have likely been signed by now. However, a court ruling in April changed that and the Department of Energy under newly-appointed Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said government would start from scratch……….

there is still concern that Mahlobo intends pushing through the energy policy document following what some believe may be a sham public participation process next week. If the new energy policy states that large amounts of nuclear energy is required, the government may see this as enough to start the process.

That is why over 20 civil society organisations wrote to Mahlobo on Tuesday asking him to clarify the purpose of the department’s Energy Indaba being held next week on Thursday and Friday in Midrand.

Action group OUTA also wrote to Mahlobo on Wednesday asking for clarity, saying that “the event programme has not yet been circulated and clarity is required on the accessibility of this indaba to the public [both interested and affected parties].”

“According to the ministry, it would appear the planned Energy Indaba constitutes a formal public engagement process on energy matters in general, including on the nuclear energy matter.

“We believe the planned Energy Indaba in the format currently being pursued falls well short of the requirements in law and reason for meaningful engagement on decisions relating to energy mix and procurement,” OUTA told the minister.

The civil society groups that wrote to Mahlobo on Tuesday include WWF, Earthlife Africa, Safcei, Greenpeace Africa and the Centre for Environmental Rights…….

With the alarm sounded, all eyes will remain on Zuma and Mahlobo regarding nuclear in the coming weeks.

Secret deal or not, the opposition groups to nuclear energy are on full alert and will turn to the courts to fight the process to the last drop. https://www.fin24.com/Opinion/zumas-anc-countdown-puts-anti-nuclear-groups-on-high-alert-20171129

December 1, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Protest against South African govt’s plan s for nuclear power

Greenpeace activists stage nuclear protest https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/greenpeace-activists-stage-nuclear-protest-12205544, PRETORIA NEWS / 30 NOVEMBER 2017 MATLHATSI DIBAKWANE matlhatsi.dibakwane@iml.co.za

A group of 15 Greenpeace activists have blocked the main entrance of the Department of Enviromental Affairs with nuclear barrels to send a message to the department to stop nuclear as they said it was never safe.

The group sat on the department’s entrance demanding with a huge banner that read “Stop nuclear! Protect our future” that they want the Department of Environmental Affairs to withdraw the environmental authorisation that has been issued for a proposed nuclear power station at Duynefontein.

They did so early in the early hours of the morning by unloading nuclear barrels filled with smoke and staged what could happen in a nuclear disaster.

Melita Steele senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa said the protest was to send a message to the department that nuclear was dangerous and expensive and should not be under consideration in South Africa.

Steele added that the approval and the construction of a nuclear power station was negligent and that the minister of environmental affairs was putting all South Africans at risk.

“South Africans are clearly saying no to nuclear, and there is no point coming to work if you are going to completely fail to do your job,” she said.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Legal action in South Africa’s High Court against government’s rushed nuclear energy deal

Two NGOs launch urgent High Court application against nuclear energy deal https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-11-17-two-ngos-launch-urgent-high-court-application-against-nuclear-energy-deal/   17 NOVEMBER 2017   KYLE COWAN On Thursday, two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) launched an urgent court application to halt what they are calling a “rush by government in decision-making on the nuclear energy deal”.Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said in a statement on Friday that they have approached the High Court to ask for an order to stay the process.

Last week, the same NGOs sent a request to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Energy Minister David Mahlobo‚ as well as the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa)‚ asking for a commitment to follow legal processes and allow public consultation on proposed nuclear deals.

The three parties had not responded to the request by Wednesday‚ the statement said.

Earthlife’s Makoma Lekalakala said: “We are part of an international movement against dirty nuclear energy‚ where we have seen governments enter into nuclear deals that are not in the interests of their people. That must not happen in SA.”

According to Earthlife‚ Mahlobo’s recent “utterances in the press” suggested that the finalisation of the integrated resource plan and the nuclear programme was being fast-tracked, “yet government has failed to implement the necessary public participation required by the court judgement that was delivered on 26 April 2017”.

The NGOs will ask the court to declare that:

• No steps‚ including the issuing of requests for proposals or request for information‚ be taken for the procurement of new electricity-generation capacity‚ derived from nuclear power.

• Steps not be taken in the absence of a lawful determination in terms of s34 of the Electricity Regulation Act‚ in concurrence with Nersa‚ following a procedurally fair public participation process.

“This determination would have to specify that new, nuclear energy electricity generation is needed‚ and what percentage of SA’s energy mix it would fulfil.”

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has also indicated that the country may not be able to afford the nuclear programme‚ which is estimated will cost upwards of R1-trillion.

The court will also be asked to direct Mahlobo and Eskom to provide written reports on what steps they have taken, or plan to take, on plans for nuclear power. Should evidence exist that they have taken steps to forge ahead with the nuclear programme‚ the court will be asked to declare Mahlobo and Eskom in contempt of court for violating the April court order.

“We cannot have unaccountable government,” said Liz McDaid of the faith communities’ institute. “We have now seen overwhelming evidence emerging in the public arena that shows how state institutions have been captured and how money that is meant to deliver services to South Africans has gone into the pockets of looters.”

“The nuclear deal‚ purportedly worth more than R1-trillion‚ is yet another one of these deals. SA cannot afford‚ nor does it need, new nuclear power-generation capacity. I think South Africans have had enough.”

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

New report says that South Africa should ditch nuclear plan, to save Eskom from ruin

To save Eskom from ruin, SA should ditch nuclear plan and cut coal power – study, Fin w24 Nov 16 2017 Cape Town – Eskom should cut down on its coal power network – including curtailing work at Kusile – and should not embark on any new nuclear, gas or coal building programmes if it wants to save itself from financial ruin, a new study has found.

This comes as an Eskom report seen by Fin24 and EE Publishers shows that the power utility is projecting a R3.55bn loss by the end of its current financial year. It also shows the power utility’s poor governance has left it teetering on the edge of insolvency, with only R1.2bn of liquidity reserves expected to be in hand at the end of the month.

Amidst Eskom’s governance and financial crisis, President Jacob Zuma has repeatedly said that South Africa is committed to developing new nuclear power stations at a pace and scale it can afford. Critics, who believe it could cost over R1trn and that would threaten the country’s fiscal framework policy, want the nuclear policy scrapped altogether.

Now, the new research report, which was published on Thursday by Meridian Economics, shows that Eskom should decommission its older coal-fired power stations and consider curtailing the Kusile construction programme in order to save costs.

These interventions can be achieved without affecting security of supply, it shows.

The study also shows that South Africa does not need a nuclear, coal or gas power procurement or construction programme. Instead, it should accelerate its transition to cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable renewable energy when further capacity is required.

“Stagnant demand and Eskom’s large power station construction programme has resulted in a growing surplus of expensive generation capacity,” Meridian Economics managing director Dr Grové Steyn said in a statement on Thursday.

“At the same time, the operating costs of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations have consistently increased. This has forced Eskom to implement the highest tariff increases in recorded history, and has led to a growing solvency and – at the time of writing – a liquidity crisis.

“If the system can meet demand over the same period by using alternative resources such as other existing coal stations, wind and solar – but at a lower cost than the cost of electricity from a particular coal-fired power station – it makes economic sense to decommission that station early, or not to complete it.”

A system analysis undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Energy Centre found that new coal and nuclear plants are simply no longer competitive against the falling costs of renewables and associated technologies, the report said.

For the foreseeable future no gas fired power stations are required (peaking gas turbines can run on liquid fuel).

“This means that South Africa does not need a nuclear, coal or gas power procurement or construction programme.”

Eskom shows no commitment to decommission older plants

Despite Eskom’s dire financial circumstances, it nonetheless has not yet committed to decommission any of its older plants, even as they approach the end of their lives and the costs of running the older stations increase, Meridian Economics explained.

“With Eskom’s on-going governance crisis, it appears that government and Eskom are partially paralysed, and could struggle to take the right decisions in the public interest. It is therefore critical that the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) ensures that these issues are investigated and addressed, and that Eskom is only allowed to recover efficient costs in its tariffs,” Meridian Economics said.

“If Eskom’s financial crisis continues to worsen, as we suspect it might, more drastic steps must be considered in light of the systemic risk to the state and the entire economy,” said Steyn.

“If the options of substantial tariff increases and further government bailouts are exhausted, Eskom will have to urgently find other ways to maintain its solvency and avoid a liquidity crisis…….. https://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/to-save-eskom-from-ruin-sa-should-ditch-nuclear-plan-and-cut-coal-power-study-20171116

November 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Is it still possible for the Zuma administration to bag the nuclear energy programme?

ZUMA’S ALLIES ARE GUNG-HO ABOUT NUCLEAR. WILL THEY GET THEIR WAY?  http://ewn.co.za/2017/11/10/analysis-zuma-s-allies-are-again-gung-ho-about-nuclear-will-they-get-their-way South Africa’s nuclear build programme seems to be back on the agendaafter earlier indications that it was dead. Recent comments by President Jacob Zuma and his new Minister of Energy David Mahlobo signal a final push to bag the nuclear deal while Zuma is still in power. In December Zuma’s term as president of the African National Congress will come to an end when the ruling party elects a new leadership. His term as president of the country ends in 2019. The Conversation Africa’s business and economy editor Sibonelo Radebe asked Keith Gottschalk to assess the situation.

Is it still possible for the Zuma administration to bag the nuclear energy programme?

The worsening financial plight of the state and its parastatals makes the estimated R1 trillion cost of the proposed nuclear build programme increasingly unaffordable. The new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said as much. Slow economic activity is squeezing the tax revenue base while social expenditure demands keep rising. This has caused the deficit indicators to rise, a cause for serious concern. It’s ludicrous for government to insist on adding the humongous nuclear build programme into such a dire state of public finances.

It’s also important to consider that government’s atomic ambitions go far beyond the 9,600 MW of extra nuclear power stations. It also wants to rebuild a uranium enrichment plant that dates back to former apartheid-era President PW Botha in the 1980s. South Africa gave up its nuclear capability in 1989. It was the only country in Africa that had the ability to make a nuclear bomb.

Zuma’s administration wants to regain some of the lost nuclear capacity. It wants to construct a fuel element fabrication factory. It has talked of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. All these also bear steep price tags.

What can stop it? It’s been reported that Mahlobo, the former State Security Minister turned Energy Minister, wants to rush through the new process of guiding the nuclear energy plan to fruition. So it’s not going to be easy to stop it.

But South Africa’s nuclear ambitions face stiff opposition from different directions. These include environmentalist critics of nuclear power generation who use a blend of media, street theatre, objections at public consultation processes, and lawfare to try and stop the government’s ambitions.

The SA Faith Community Environmental Initiative group won an important victory earlier this year when the Cape High Court ruled that the government had not followed due process in its nuclear energy plans, and that they had to be halted. This effectively sent government back to square one.

Opposition parties have also been active, using parliamentary channels. They’re also considering taking the legal route to halt the nuclear juggernaut.

And there is palpable opposition within the ANC itself. A number of ANC branches sent motions critical of the costs of nuclear electricity to the ANC’s national policy conference. That conference’s report censored out all these motions.

The administration seems to be pulling out all the stops to bag this programme: What’s at stake? By now, scandal-weary South Africans will react by saying: follow the money. In December 2016 the government dropped the bombshell that the procurement of its nuclear build programme would be taken away from the Department of Energy and done instead through Eskom.

The reason became clear when months of media headlines revealed that Eskom’s procurement mechanisms had been infiltrated and subverted by the Gupta family conglomerate to become a corporate feeding trough. With close ties to Zuma, the Guptas stand accused of operating an elaborate mission to capture state business with a keen eye on the nuclear energy build programme.

Every nuclear build contract, from “consulting” to turbines, would be inflated by one-fifth to build in the kickbacks to the corrupt middlemen tenderpreneurs.

Does South Africa need nuclear energy at this stage?

South Africa does not need nuclear energy at any stage.About a decade ago, the government argued that South Africa’s economic growth was 5% per year every year, and that the resultant increase in electricity demand necessitated building 9,600 MW of new nuclear power stations. Critics pointed out that these figures were inaccurate.

Economic growth has shrunk significantly since then together with future projections of electricity demand. But the government still insist that the 9,600 MW of nuclear power proposition is backed by economic fundamentals. Clearly, this is a political decision uncoupled from economic realities.

On top of this, the most cost-effective generation of electricity would be a blend of imported hydro, imported gas, solar and wind. But these avenues seem to have been blocked by nefarious agendas.

In 2010, the Department of Energy proudly announced a 5,000 MW solar park to be built outside Upington. It hosted an international investors’ conference to kickstart progress. Since then, nothing has happened.

In 2014 the department proudly put up on the internet a slide show of how Zuma and the DRC’s President Kabila had signed a treaty guaranteeing South Africa over 10,000 MW of imported hydropower once the Inga dams were constructed.

By December 2016 the department had effectively airbrushed these out of its presentations. Clearly, political power had been applied to compel the department to drop Eskom’s renewable division, and to suck up to its nuclear division. Which political power this was became exposed this week when Zuma smeared opponents of his nuclear plans as western puppets.

What are global trends saying about nuclear energy?

The building of new nuclear power stations in developed countries is drastically declining. The UK is alone in signing a contract to build a new one. Nuclear vendors have stepped up their sales campaigns in developing countries to compensate.

Keith Gottschalk is a political scientist, University of the Western Cape.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s President Zuma determined to push through a nuclear power deal

Zuma’s last ditch effort to ram through a nuclear power deal https://mg.co.za/article/2017-11-09-zumas-last-ditch-effort-to-ram-through-a-nuclear-power-deal, Hartmut Winkler President Jacob Zuma’s term of office has been characterised by an absence of vision and associated initiatives. Zuma is instead known for his inaction and overt stalling tactics. Examples include delays in setting up the State Capture Commission of Inquiry, announcing a new board for the state broadcaster, and delaying the release of a report on the future of university fees.

His recent dramatic push to fast-track an expensive and highly controversial nuclear power station build is therefore very much out of character. But Zuma’s advocacy of the nuclear build needs to be understood in terms of another hallmark of his presidency – state capture. This expression refers to the systematic takeover of state institutions by presidential allies and the resulting exploitation of institutions for commercial advantage and profit by his benefactors.

It’s already become clear who is likely to benefit from South Africa pursuing the option to build nuclear power stations. The list includes the Gupta brothers and Zuma’s son Duduzane through their links to the Shiva uranium mine.

And then there’s Zuma himself. Speculation about why the president appears to be favouring a deal with Russian company Rosatom ranges from allegations of grand scale individual kickbacks to alleged commitments linked to funding for the African National Congress.

 The controversy around the nuclear power option was precipitated three years ago when it emerged that the government had signed an agreement with Russia that paved the way for the use of Russian technology in planned new nuclear power stations. The problem was that there’d been a complete lack of due process – no costing, no public consultation, no proper proclamation and no competitive bidding. It was no surprise that the courts declared the awarding of the nuclear build to Russia illegal.

On top of this a very strong case has been mounted against South Africa pursuing nuclear power. Reasons include the fact that it can’t afford it, and doesn’t need nuclear in its energy mix.

Despite all of these developments, and the growing controversy and mounting opposition to the deal, Zuma appears determined to get it done before his term as president of the ANC ends in December. In the last of the reshuffles he appointed one of his closest allies, David Mahlobo, to the energy portfolio. This is generally seen as a last ditch attempt to roll out the nuclear build in the face of now massive opposition.

Reports suggest that this reshuffle was occasioned by Russian displeasure over what they see as a broken promise to award the building contract to Rosatom.

The energy minister’s next steps

Mahlobo appears to have devoted his first few weeks in office entirely to furthering the nuclear project. He has been active in the media declaring the nuclear build as a given – and necessary.

 Mahlobo’s next steps are likely to be:
  • He is reported to be planning to release – in record time – a new energy plan. This, some suspect, will be biased towards nuclear.
  • Heightened public lobbying. This could include verbal attacks on nuclear critics as already initiated by the President.
  • The issuing of a request for proposals to build the nuclear plants to potential developers like Rosatom. Most observers expect the evaluation to favour Rosatom regardless of the merits of the other bidders.
  • Signing an agreement with Rosatom. This could mirror the USD$30 billion deal Russia signed with Egypt which, on the surface, will appear attractive because it would offer favourable terms such as annual interest of only 3% and the commencement of repayments after 13 years. But when scaling the 4.8 GW Egyptian agreement up to the 9.6 GW envisioned for South Africa, the total cost then already exceeds R1 trillion. Annual repayments from year 14 to year 35 then amount to about 5% of South Africa’s annual fiscus. Any cost overruns, which are common in many other nuclear builds, would vastly increase the debt further.

What’s changed

The global energy landscape has changed dramatically since South Africa first mooted the idea of supplementing its power mix with more nuclear. Major developments and changes include:

Not even government’s own recent energy plans have promoted nuclear.

A 2013 draft energy plan argued against immediate nuclear growth. (The plan was never formally adopted).

The last draft plan released in 2016 went as far as declaring new nuclear unnecessary until 2037.

Will it happen?

Nuclear plants are major long term investments, and these projects will not survive lengthy construction and operation periods without broad public support. There is definitely a lack of public support in South Africa.

The Zuma-Mahlobo work plan will face major opposition by other parties, civil society and even critics within the ruling party. Lengthy court challenges will query the validity of the energy plan process, the public consultation, the regulatory aspects, the site selection and the constitutionality of the entire process. Public protests highly effective in other spheres would now be directed against the nuclear build. The ruling party would probably abandon the scheme if it proves politically costly.

The danger is, however, that huge funds will have been wasted in coming to this realisation.

The stakes are high. Zuma’s efforts to promote this unpopular nuclear project are weakening him politically. Even party comrades perceived to be in his inner circle – like newly appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba – recognise that going ahead with the programme at this stage would cripple the country economically. Repeated ministerial reshuffles to sideline his critics has further damaged Zuma’s standing in the ruling party and in broader society.

Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

How the Gupta brothers and the nuclear industry bought South Africa

The Brothers Who Bought South Africa, The continent’s most important economy now appears to function for the benefit of one powerful family. Bloomberg, By Matthew Campbell and Franz Wild, 9 Nov 17 

“….– Since Nene’s firing, long-standing questions about the scale of the Guptas’ power in South Africa have exploded into the most severe political and economic crisis since the end of apartheid. The family has been accused by activists and opposition politicians of stacking the leadership of powerful state companies, rigging bids in favor of suppliers it controls, and even helping orchestrate a planned $70 billion nuclear-power deal with Russia, for which it could supply vast quantities of uranium—all while using an alliance with Zuma to neuter law enforcement agencies that would otherwise shut down its efforts. Blue chip companies including McKinseyKPMG, and SAP have been embroiled in what’s fast becoming a global scandal……..

In 2005 the brothers began putting Zuma’s family on their payroll. They hired his son Duduzane, then in his early 20s, as an IT specialist; appointed Duduzane’s twin sister, Duduzile, as a company director; and made one of Zuma’s wives (polygamy is legal in South Africa, and Zuma currently has four) a communications officer.

Over the years, Duduzane became an integral node in the Guptas’ empire, both as a shareholder in uranium and coal mines and a director in a string of other companies. …….
There was at least one more avenue by which money might flow from Eskom to Gupta-connected companies. In 2010 the family’s investment company borrowed about 250 million rand from a state bank to buy a South African uranium mine. It was a curious purchase—there was no real buyer for the uranium, because South Africa has only one aging nuclear plant. In 2014, however, Zuma’s administration laid out a grand plan that would make the mine’s value soar: He proposed building six massive nuclear plants for Eskom at an ultimate cost that could exceed $70 billion.

The idea was controversial from the start. In addition to immense reserves of coal, South Africa has a vibrant renewable-energy sector and no obvious need for nuclear power.

 Zuma has dismissed the criticism, arguing the country needs to diversify its energy sources—and strategic alliances. In 2014, he and President Putin agreed that Russia’s state nuclear agency, Rosatom Corp., would provide technology for the plants.

The next summer, Zuma was back in Russia for an economic summit, joined by his senior ministers—including Nene, the then-finance chief. Toward the end of the conference, according to two officials who were present, Zuma cornered Nene in a briefing room about the nuclear deal. The president and several other ministers demanded that Nene provide financial guarantees that would allow Eskom and Russia’s relationship to move ahead. Nene refused; even under the most optimistic projections, he said, a nuclear project of the scale Zuma envisioned would severely strain South African finances.

Zuma complained bitterly about Nene’s resistance, the summit officials say. Not long afterward, Nene’s deputy, Jonas, found himself in the Guptas’ sitting room at Saxonwold, being offered his boss’s job…….

The Guptas’ apparent grip on politics is resilient, but their freedom of movement has been significantly reduced—and doing business with them now carries potentially fatal risks…….. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-11-09/the-brothers-who-bought-south-africa

November 9, 2017 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute and Earthlife Africa ready to take legal action against nuclear policy

Abide by nuclear procurement ruling or we go to court, state told  https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-11-10-abide-by-nuclear-procurement-ruling-or-we-go-to-court-state-told/
Failure by Energy Minister David Mahlobo, Eskom and Nersa to halt any tender process for nuclear energy will end in court 10 NOVEMBER 2017   LINDA ENSOR The government, Eskom and the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) have been urged to abide by the judgment of the High Court in Cape Town and immediately halt any tender process for nuclear energy.

The call comes from the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute and Earthlife Africa.

Failure by Energy Minister David Mahlobo, Eskom and Nersa to give an undertaking by Monday that they will halt the process could result in an urgent application being brought to the high court to ensure that its judgment is respected and that the government acts “openly and transparently” with regard to nuclear procurement.

The two organisations have sent lawyers’ letters to Mahlobo, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, Eskom and Nersa recalling the April judgment, which ruled that any decision made about new electricity generation must be made in conjunction with Nersa through a lawful and procedurally fair determination under section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act.

The determination would have to specify why new
nuclear energy electricity generation was needed so urgently and what percentage of SA’s energy mix it would fulfil.

Earthlife Africa’s Johannesburg co-ordinator, Makoma Lekalakala, noted that the judgment emphasised the need for public participation as part of the determination processes.

The letters follow news reports that Mahlobo is fast-tracking finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan by four months so he can expedite nuclear procurement. The plan will determine the energy mix the country will require in future, what proportion of this will be provided by nuclear and when the construction of new nuclear plants should begin.

Eskom has signalled its intention to begin the tender process immediately if the Integrated Resource Plan showed the nuclear programme could go ahead.

Liz McDaid of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said the fast-tracking of the plan was being undertaken despite Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba having stated that the country did not need nor could it afford new nuclear plants.

The many serious allegations of state capture and irregular procurement processes by senior Eskom officials could not be ignored, McDaid added.

November 9, 2017 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Finance Minister Gigaba seeking funds for nuclear power from World Bank?

South Africa’s Gigaba Meets With World Bank on Nuclear Plan https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-07/south-africa-s-gigaba-is-said-to-meet-world-bank-on-nuclear

  • Financing for Eskom to develop nuclear program was discussed
  • Talks also included options to assist South African Airways

South Africa’s Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba met with representatives of the World Bank last week to discuss financing for development of a nuclear power program in the country, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

 Gigaba met with the bank on Friday to discuss funding options available to state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. for the program, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is not public. South African Airways, the national airline that is struggling to meet debt obligations, was also discussed at the meeting, said one of the people.
Eskom last year began a process to add 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power capacity beyond its single existing plant by issuing a request for information from vendors. There were 38 responses to the notice, Kelvin Kemm, chairman of the South African Nuclear Energy Corp., told lawmakers in Cape Town on Tuesday.

South Africa’s nuclear investment plans have become a focal point for critics of President Jacob Zuma’s policies. The affordability of the program was a key point of dispute between Zuma and former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the procurement process stalled in April after a provincial court ruled that the government didn’t follow the correct procedure in pursuing the nuclear program.

 Gigaba declined to comment on Tuesday when asked about the meeting. The World Bank didn’t immediately respond to questions sent by email but confirmed receipt.

Gigaba said Oct. 26 that South Africa can’t afford to build new reactors for at least five years and that it doesn’t need more baseload, or continuous, power capacity. Nuclear still remains a part of the energy plan and the government will look at it as an option when needed and when it can afford it, he said.

South Africa Energy Minister David Mahlobo, who was appointed last month, said on Oct. 23 that a legal procurement process would be followed for a nuclear program, noting the Western Cape High Court decision.

The World Bank has previously supported energy projects through Eskom. However, an inspection panel from the organization in 2012 found instances of non-compliance in its award of a $3.75 billion loan to the utility for construction of the Medupi coal-fired power plant. The impacts and risks for other local water users weren’t properly considered and the project would place strain on water resources in an area already suffering from scarcity, it said at the time.

The discussions between Gigaba and the World Bank also included options to assist South African Airways, according to one of the people.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) ready to stop any attempt by Energy Minister David Mahlobo to force through a nuclear deal

We’ll interdict any nuclear deal – DA   Fin 24 Nov 05 2017 Liesl Peyper  Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is ready to interdict any attempt by Energy Minister David Mahlobo to force through a nuclear deal.

The party’s energy spokesperson Gordon Mackay said in a statement the DA will use “every legal and Parliamentary tool at its disposal” to ensure that South Africans won’t be “shackled” to the massive debt that will flow from an unaffordable and unnecessary nuclear deal, estimated at around R1trn.

City Press reported on Sunday that officials at the Energy Department have been forced to work overtime, including weekends, to complete the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by November 14 – four weeks ahead of schedule.

The IRP, which will determine the energy mix the country needs, was expected to be finalised in February next year, but will now be finished in the next two weeks………

Last week, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told City Press that nuclear energy was neither affordable for the sluggish economy, nor immediately necessary.

The stance was repeated by National Treasury deputy director general Michael Sachs who told Parliament on Friday that neither South Africa’s budget nor the country can afford nuclear.

Sachs said National Treasury in 2015 already said 9.6GW of nuclear energy would have a negative effect on the total debt burden and the balance of payments.

“It would not be prudent to proceed with that prior to the stabilisation of national debt and that stabilisation has been pushed out.  All I can say over medium term we haven’t allocated resources. Our view is that it’s not affordable at present. I can’t give categorical commitments, but we don’t foresee it being affordable over the current medium term expenditure framework.”

Mahlobo, however, who has been in his new job for just more than two weeks after three years as state security minister, has contradicted Gigaba and National Treasury about South Africa’s pursuit of a nuclear build programme……….

Mahlobo was appointed Energy Minister early in October during a surprise Cabinet reshuffle, which some commentators took as a sign that SA wanted to fast-track its nuclear ambitions.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s new Energy Minister rushes into nuclear power development with indecent haste

Mahlobo rushes nuclear deal, News 24, Setumo Stone, 5 Nov 17, As Energy Minister David Mahlobo forces his nuclear power plans into action, officials at his department are working weekends to finalise the country’s reviewed integrated energy resource plan – four months ahead of schedule.

The plan to determine the energy mix the country needs was expected to be finalised in February next year, but will now be finished in the next two weeks.

“We would have been talking February, but now we are talking November 14,” said an insider, vouching for the level of hard work the minister was putting into his job.

This would enable Mahlobo to make projections of the country’s future energy demands based on “empirical evidence”.

Last week, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told City Press that nuclear energy was neither affordable for the sluggish economy, nor immediately necessary.  Mahlobo, who has been in his new job for just more than two weeks after three years as state security minister, is now on a collision course with Gigaba and Treasury.

The nuclear energy plan is expected to cost South Africa about R1 trillion, an amount that economists and politicians from across the spectrum – including the ANC – say the country’s struggling economy cannot afford. ……..

 The countries with the leading technology are France, Russia, the US, South Korea and China. Companies from these countries as well as their governments have been aggressively wooing South Africa’s decision-makers and working to sway public opinion their way. But many believe that President Jacob Zuma’s cosy relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, as well as Mahlobo’s own close ties to the Kremlin and its security establishment, has already tilted the scales in that country’s favour.

When Mahlobo’s predecessor Mmamoloko Kubayi was moved out of the department in the Cabinet reshuffle last month, there was widespread speculation that it was because she was not moving with haste on the nuclear programme……….

Mahlobo said he had no desire to see the country borrow money to fund the nuclear project……..https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/mahlobo-rushes-nuclear-deal-20171105-2

November 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Allegation of R20 million bribe to Eskom manager

Eskom manager received R20 million for Kusile tender – Report https://mybroadband.co.za/news/energy/236254-eskom-manager-received-r20-million-for-kusile-tender-report.html

According to the report, the money has been in the account of Hlakudi Translation and Interpretation CC since 2015.

France Hlakudi, an Eskom contract manager for the Medupi and Kusile projects, is the only member of the closed corporation. He denies there are any irregularities.

The report alleges that large sums of money were withdrawn from the account over the same period, suggesting it may have been used for money laundering.

These revelations were brought to light as a result of the disciplinary hearing of Matshela Koko, the suspended Eskom CEO.

Koko said Hlakudi must be removed from the Kusile project in February.

Koko allegedly did so without following the correct procedures, but he maintained he acted within his authority and he will testify about why he removed Hlakudi.

Rapport stated that a letter from a whistleblower to interim Eskom chair Zethembe Khosa also provides details about the R20-million payment.

Hlakudi is still the contract manager of Medupi and Kusile. The two projects have cost at least R160 billion to build – initial budgets were set at R118 billion.

The news comes alongside a report that Energy Minister David Mahlobo is forcing his nuclear energy plan into action.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: coal and nuclear lobbies want to kill off renewable energy, says physics expert

Coal, nuclear lobbies want to kill off renewable energy, says physics expert https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/1715920/coal-nuclear-lobbies-want-to-kill-off-renewable-energy-says-physics-expert/Amanda Watson  Eskom has become a victim of its own successful campaign during the rolling blackouts to use as little of its product as possible.

While Eskom waits for its R1.5 billion from Trillian and McKinsey and company, thousands of people who installed solar geysers under the solar geyser home incentive scheme remain out of pocket.

The real number is unknown at this stage and the cessation of the programme – believed to be since January 2016 – speaks directly to Eskom’s appeal to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to approve its request for a 19.9% price hike.

Eskom has become a victim of its own successful campaign during the rolling blackouts to use as little of its product as possible.

Now, it is producing surplus electricity – 5 600MW at peak in January – and is hell-bent on making as many people as possible pay for electricity to use its product.

It had 162 104 customers connected to the grid between January and October, and it appears the organisation is more focused on turning bucks than in green targets.

Meanwhile, the Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme has said: “South Africa has a high level of renewable energy potential and in line with the national commitment to transition to a low carbon economy, 17 800MW of the 2030 target (according to the IRP 2010) of newly generated power to be developed are expected to be from renewable energy sources, with 5 000MW to be operational by 2019 and a further 2 000MW (i.e. combined 7 000MW) operational by 2020.”

The question is why does Eskom and the department of energy (DE) not make surplus electricity available at a cheaper rate, for economic development.

The answer lies perhaps in an article on The Conversation by University of Johannesburg professor of physics Hartmut Winkler.

Winkler has postulated that two powerful lobbies against renewable energy were at work. “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,” said Winkler.

“Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear,” he wrote.

“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,” Winkler claimed.

All the dithering, corruption and cover-ups have consequences for ordinary folk. Meanwhile, Eskom said the organisation has established the National Solar Water Heating programme on behalf of the DE.

For more than a week, Saturday Citizen has attempted to obtain answers from the DE, but its spokesperson, Johannes Mokobane, kept referring us to the website. – amandaw@citizen.co.za

November 6, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment