SA’s nuclear situation – a call for Necsa to be given new life

Koebrg nuclear plant in the Western Cape, SA

The South African Nuclear Corporation (Necsa), is staffed beyond capacity, waiting for a R9.3-billion nuclear build that is never coming. Quoted in Daily Maverick’s (DM) Monday online publication, it stated:  “It is loss-making, its liabilities probably outweigh its assets and it will run out of cash before its financial year-end.”

It calls the nuclear situation in SA the biggest heist seen in post-apartheid South Africa,. Thanks to the efforts of Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute the Constitutional Court  in 2015 set aside the inter-governmental agreement signed with the Russian government  (of Chernobyl, the biggest nuclear disaster the world had ever seen).

But with Minister and the biggest fan of nuclear, Minister Gwede Mantashe saying there is no rush, the cabinet had only now compiled a list of new breaths to be incorporated into Necsa. However, Natie Shabangu, spokesperson for our country’s greatest proponent of nuclear energy (the Hon Minister Mantashe) told DM that  we have to do things systematically which seems to be African continent speak for “we shall not be rushed.”

With the big guys leaving Necsa one after the other, the danger is real that SA’s energy regulator may well, in SAA-style, hit the skids. In 2018, then energy minister Jeff Radebe fired the entire Necsa board following “continued ineptitude and deliberate acts of defiance”, and suspended its CEO. The Attorney-General joined the choir of angry voices saying the organisation’s management team did not adhere to an honest and ethical business practice when compiling annual reports.

From there on, things really went south and only recently, the Pelindaba nuclear reactor near Hartbeespoort Dam) had no more space to store nuclear waste, but had to wait for the inept Necsa to give the go ahead to avoid a disaster too frightening to contemplate.

As with all State-owned enterprises, (think Denel, DAA, Telkom, SARS, Eskom), Nerca is now a major financial liability and costs of running the nuclear reactor (which no one saw the need to maintain as long as everything could be blamed on the apartheid government) could not be met. A major bailout is needed. Pelchem and Pelindaba did not do any better.

And so starts a new week for all of us who #arestaying.

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