An enthusiastic group of supporters from SAFCEI, Earthlife Africa (Joburg) , One Million Climate Jobs and the Right To Know Campaign gathered on the steps of the High Court in Cape Town to await the start of the case Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI vs President Zuma and the Minister of Energy on the constitutionality of the government’s procedures relating to new nuclear procurement.
Inside the courtroom, events unfolded with all the drama and intrigue of a TV law series. Round one went to `team Zuma’ with a curved ball in the form of new technical information from the Dept. of Energy only made public in court this morning. It relates to a determination to make ESKOM the procuring agent for nuclear and no longer the Dept of Energy. The `win’ was not an ethical one but a tactic to get the hearings postponed. The delay in itself is not the problem. The issue is the uninterrupted continuation of the new nuclear build process and the disquieting disregard for a transparent and legal process. Mr Matshela Koko, acting CEO of ESKOM, sitting in the gallery between SAFCEI supporters and energy activists calmly commented that the court process would not affect ESKOM as the Request for Proposals from nuclear vendors will be issued next week. Within minutes a Media 24 journalist had released a media alert quoting Mr Koko. Both legal teams picked up the quote via their twitter feeds. The connection between the forced delay in the legal proceedings and the imminent issuing of the Request for Proposals is clear. Team Energy Justice (Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI) immediately requested the court to consider an application binding on ESKOM to delay the Request for Proposals until after the reconvened court hearings in February 2017.
In the words of Advocate Unterhalter speaking for `team Energy Justice’: Government is using a variety of maneuvering to avoid judicial scrutiny and to proceed in haste with the issuing of Request for Proposals without the proper order of legality. He warned that the risks of continuing the procurement process and strengthening negotiations with international bidders while the national house was not in order are huge and could translate into a crippling trillion rand fine. Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI’s court papers are already contesting the constitutionality of signed agreements of co-operation between the Dept. of Energy and Rostacom (the Russian nuclear energy corporation). The haste of the procurement process could catapult South African into a situation where international trade agreements give priority to the nuclear negotiations and contracts above national legislation. `Team Zuma’ insists that the issuing of the Request for Proposals is part of the process of assessing interest. Whose interest! This is not a process of ensuring energy justice. It smells strongly of state capture! Let us not be captured. Most unfortunately when he returned after the lunch break Judge Lee Bozalek did not support the application to stop the Request for Procurement. He did however charge the Dept of Energy with the legal costs of the delay on a punitive scale. The case resumes on 20 -23 February 2016.
How ironic that our Parliamentary Emblem is crowned by a rising sun, the same sun that could power our national grid. While the words `We the People’ expresses constitutional affirmation that democracy matters and that the health and economic well being of South Africans is a parliamentary priority.
“We urge you, the citizens of our beautiful South Africa, to join us in voicing a resounding NO to nuclear in Africa and YES to energy justice (which can be achieved in so many other ways.) “Join us by signing up for our THUNDERCLAP and say NO to government corruption.
“For more information on our nuclear campaign visit nuclearcostssa.org”
Kim Kruyshaar 13 December 2016