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French nuclear agreement just a smokescreen

South Africans have been informed of a nuclear co-operation agreement between South Africa and France, signed by Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

Thousands of people attended an anti nuclear march in Jeffreys Bay in 2010

Thousands of people attended an anti nuclear march in Jeffreys Bay in 2010

However, the leader of the DA, Helen Zille says that this agreement is no more than a decoy, intended to muddy the waters and divert the attention from the Russian deal negotiated by President Zuma and signed by Minister Joemat-Pettersson last month.

“We’re led to believe that a similar agreement with the Chinese is up next and that the proper procurement process has yet to begin, but all evidence points to a done deal with the Russians. No amount of obfuscation can allow our focus to shift from this,” said Zille.

“The fact that President Zuma personally and privately negotiated with Russian President Vladimir Putin on at least three occasions – at the BRICS summit in Brazil last year, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in May last year and again during his secretive visit to Moscow in August this year – before instructing Minister Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal, exposes these subsequent “agreements” with other countries for the cover-up they are,” added Zille.

The issuing of identical and simultaneous statements last month by the Russian Atomic Agency (ROSATOM) and the Department of Energy confirming the deal, was a revealing mistake which they are now desperately trying to undo through distractions, spin and secrecy.

“It is clear the President and the Energy Department will do everything in their power to bury the details of the Russian deal. I raised it as a point of discussion at the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) on 8 October – a forum where the president and the nine Premiers meet – but unsurprisingly it was blocked from the agenda,” continued Zille.

“I have since called for a one-on-one meeting with President Zuma in which I will ask him to explain not only the details and circumstances surrounding the Russian deal, but also his decision to purchase unaffordable nuclear power in contradiction with our National Development Plan (NDP).”

The only way to fund such a deal is through tariff hikes, which means future generations of South Africans will still be paying this trillion rand bill through electricity prices they simply cannot afford.

In addition, the DA has submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain every document upon which Minister Joemat-Pettersson relied in concluding this agreement, as well as the agreement itself.

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South Africa is still waiting for the Minister to explain to Parliament’s Energy Committee the details of this deal. If she and the president have nothing to hide, then there should be no reason not to show us the relevant documents.

Section 217 of our Constitution clearly states that procurement contracts by an organ of state must be “fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective”.

We cannot allow President Zuma and his smokescreen of “commercial confidentiality” to trump our Constitution.

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