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Russia-South Africa nuclear deal: DA demands answers

By Crystal Oderson in Cape Town
Posted on Thursday, 25 September 2014 16:10

DA leader, Hellen Zille says the nuclear co-operation deal between the two countries – announced by Russian energy company, Rosatom – was a political rather than an economic one and must be fought.

Early this week Rosatom announced a multi billion rand deal to supple South Africa with nuclear reactors.

Addressing a press conference in Cape Town Zille said: “We must stop this corrupt undercover agreement that will be disastrous for SA”.

Zille described the Russia nuclear deal is a “mega arms deal in the making” and that her opposition to it was a “fight that must be taken on if we are to prevent future generations footing the estimated R1 trillion bill for a deal ten times the size of the arms deal”.

Controversy surrounds a late 1990s arms deal, which was allegedly mired in bribery. South African President Jacob Zuma, three years ago, set up a commission of enquiry to investigate the deal.

As the DA raised its concern on the latest deal, environmental non governmental organisation, Earthlife Africa, has also entered the fray, adding its voice on the nuclear deal.

“The announcement arrives at a time when public distrust around the rumoured nuclear procurement deal has been gaining momentum, mostly because of the secrecy with which the deal has been carried out in the highest corridors of power and because of the enormous costs involved,” Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife said.

“The nuclear deal with Russia will spell disaster for the environment and for communities located close to the demarcated nuclear build sites.”

Earthlife Africa added that the claim that Rosatom will be able to build the proposed eight new reactors by 2030 and solve South Africa’s energy crisis is grossly overestimated.

The DA said it has already written to the energy parliamentary committee chairperson requesting that Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson be subpoenaed to appear before the committee and produce a copy of the full agreement, as well as provide clarification on Rosatom’s public statements.

South Africans have also expressed their anger through social media and other media platforms on the deal announced by Rosatom earlier this week.

The government has however backtracked and said no agreement was signed between South Africa and Rosatom.

The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Energy Association of SA, Necsa said there was no procurement deal but “a country-to-country framework agreement”.

DA’s Energy spokesperson, Lance Greyling said electricity prices would have to escalate to cover costs and the deal cannot be financed off either through power utility, Eskom or the country’s savings.

According to an earlier statement from government, Energy Minister Joemat-Pettersson said: “South Africa today, as never before, is interested in the massive development of nuclear power, which is an important driver for the national economy growth”.

She said that the cooperation with Russia would allow the country to implement ambitious plans for the creation, by 2030, of 9,6 GW of new nuclear capacities based on modern and safe technologies.

The agreement “opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides a proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

Meanwhile, Business Day reports that the nuclear deal will not be made public, according to a top government official involved in the negotiations.

“The government has made it clear it intends to forge ahead with the procurement of 9,600MW of nuclear power, despite public concern over the costs and persistent rumours that a secret deal has been made with the Russians,” the unnamed top official is quoted saying.

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