South Africa and Russia have signed a secret nuclear deal to which details that Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson signed with Russia. The details have been guarded even though the people of South Africa have a right to know. The trillion-rand fleet of new nuclear power stations appear to be designed to sidestep the constitutional requirement for open and competitive tendering.
Once the agreement comes into force, the Russians will have a veto over South Africa doing business with any other nuclear vendor. And it will be binding for a minimum of 20 years. The agreement confirms the government’s intention to make “Atomic Tina’s” energy department the procuring agent for the nuclear programme rather than Eskom – where the country’s nuclear expertise lies, despite the utility’s travails.
The terms of the agreement lean heavily in Russia’s favour. They:
- Indemnify the Russians from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. The agreement says South Africa is “solely responsible for any damage both within and outside the territory of the Republic of South Africa”;
- Hand the Russians a host of regulatory concessions and “special favourable treatment” in tax and other financial matters, but offer South Africa no such incentives; and
- Require Russia’s permission if South Africa wants to export nuclear technology it develops locally as a result of learning from the Russians, thereby hindering government’s aim that the nuclear new-build programme will develop a globally competitive local nuclear industry.
Source:The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See http://www.amabhungane.co.za