South Africa: Why is the Energy Department meeting with Russian nuclear scientists?

24 October 2014, Cape Town – The Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Petersson, must urgently provide details on the secret meeting her department is currently having with Russian nuclear scientists in the Drakensberg.

Press reports this morning confirm that the Department of Energy is currently meeting with a large number of Rosatom nuclear scientists in secret at a luxury resort hotel in the mountain retreat.

Tina-Joemat-Pettersson, South African energy ministerThis is not the synopsis of the latest Hollywood espionage thriller, but the reality of a secret meeting taking place between officials from Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom and Department of Energy (DOE) officials including nuclear chief, Zizamele Mbambo.

The DA will submit urgent questions to the Minister of Energy to demand that she clarifies:

What was being discussed at this meeting;

Why the meeting is being held in secret;

Whether her department is paying for the meeting and if so, how much; and

Whether there has been any further agreement with Rosatom.

If there is any intention of engaging in a nuclear build programme, the Minister must initiate public procurement processes as soon as possible. Secret ‘behind the scenes’ dealings are simply unacceptable, especially given that the price tag could be as high as R1 trillion.

The DA demands assurances from the Minister that all other countries that have submitted bids will be provided with the very same opportunities, such as this secret conference, to make their proposals to the department.

Any attempts to portray this as an open bidding process is a farce. The evidence points increasingly to a deal done in secret with the Russians. It is clear that Rosatom is the preferred bidder and the Minister must answer as to why.

We will pursue every avenue at our disposal to get to the bottom of the government’s intentions with the nuclear negotiations.

*Lance Greyling, Shadow Minister of Energy – Democratic Alliance

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