22 March 2023 | 08:28 AM

Advocacy: DoE claims nuke procurement details classified

DoE claims nuke procurement details classified

Key Takeaways

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.

Read the department of energy’s refusal

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.

See amaBhungane’s Paia application

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.

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Aisha Abdool Karim

Aisha is a freelance science and health reporter. She is joining the amaB team to work on a project about water and sanitation. Aisha’s passion for long-form narrative and investigative journalism was sparked while doing her master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. After graduating in 2018, she returned to South Africa and began working as a general beat reporter for the Daily Maverick. Aisha joined the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism in 2020 to focus on science reporting. During her time there, she covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively — from fact-checking harmful medical misinformation to unpacking the science behind vaccine development. Aisha’s special interests include analysing health systems and in-depth coverage of public health issues and infectious diseases. She also loves spreadsheets and digging through data.

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