Thedepartment of energy on Wednesday refusedto disclose key records related to the impending procurement of new nuclearpower stations, South Africa’s largest tender yet at a ballpark R1-trillion.
“Theimportance of transparency in a matter involving public expenditure on such ascale cannot be over-stated. The department’s response falls woefully short ofthe required standard,” said amaBhungane advocacy co-ordinator Karabo Rajuili.
The ANC, in its National General Council discussion documents, addedits voice this week to a growing call for transparency in the nuclearprocurement, saying: “Government must commit to afull, transparent and thorough cost benefit analysis of nuclear power as partof the procurement process, and clarify the status of the update to theIntegrated Resource Plan.
“Government must also announce publicly that nuclear energy canonly be procured in line with the legal prescripts and after a thoroughgoingaffordability assessment.“
AmaBhunganesubmitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia) request to thedepartment after a media briefing on July 14 about the country’sreadiness to embark on the nuclear build programme. At the briefing, the deputydirector general for nuclear energy‚ Zizamele Mbambo, said a review proved thatthe proposed nuclear build is “fundable” and will “contribute positively to theeconomy of the country”.
AmaBhunganerequested records including the contracting strategy for the nuclear buildprogramme, records relating to the financing arrangements, and studies about regulatoryindependence and institutional arrangements.
In refusing to disclose the information, the department claimedcommercial and third-party exemptions. It added: “We confirmthat the reports are classified. Thus, at this stage, the disclosure of thereports would be premature, and therefore, access is refused…”
Paia exemptions such as those claimed should, however, be read in line with the provisionsof the Constitution, which specifies transparency in state procurement.
AmaBhungane will file an internal appeal as permitted under theAct.
AmaBhungane engages in advocacy under its mandate to helpsecure the information rights investigative journalists need to do their work.
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.