The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the eventual and long overdue approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by Cabinet. We do, however, call for the immediate review thereof because it is already outdated as it is based on dated assumptions and data. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is mandated to promulgate a new IRP every two years. The last one was in 2010, and the newly approved version has been in draft since 2016.
We will write to Minister Mantashe in this regard, and will also request that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy provide a time frame for the ongoing and regular review of the IRP.
The IRP is South Africa’s blueprint for how electricity will be generated and sourced. It is meant to provide a framework for a just energy transition, including the use of renewable sources of supply, and the management of the national grid.
Cabinet’s approval of the IRP follows Eskom’s implementation of stage 2 rolling blackouts on Tuesday which plunged the country into darkness – impacting economic activity and matric exams.
It is clearer than ever that Eskom’s monopolistic hold on South Africa’s electricity sector is hampering the country’s progress due to its inefficiencies. Energy security in South Africa requires a diverse mix of supply and the bringing on board of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
We need to reduce our reliance on coal as our primary source of power and improve our carbon emissions control. It is for this reason that we need to urgently open a new bid window for IPPs (and more specifically renewable IPP’s) in order to ensure a more diverse, clean, competitive and efficient energy sector. We also need to address demand management through smart grid technologies and the roll-out of the national solar water heater programme, which has ground to an ignoble halt and is far behind its targeted schedule.
South Africa must pursue a “least cost” option for electricity supply if there is to be any hope of placing our economy on a stable footing.
Renewable energy is the future and SA cannot be left behind.
The country needs a diverse energy mix. This is the only way our economy stands any chance of recovery.
The Deputy Minister of Energy, Thembisile Majola, told Parliament today that the new Cabinet is reconsidering the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that the old Cabinet approved in December last year.
This is the clearest indication yet that President Cyril Ramaphosa may reject former President Jacob Zuma’s planned nuclear build programme.
Ms. Majola told the Portfolio Committee on Energy that Minister Jeff Radebe had requested the IRP to be “re-processed” and taken back to Cabinet because “certain things were not done”. It is unfortunate that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee would not allow the DA to pose questions as to what these “certain things” were.
We are therefore left to speculate as to whether the new Cabinet is rejecting the old Cabinet’s IRP because of the inclusion of new nuclear investment in it. Indeed, last week the Director-General of the Energy Department, Thabane Zulu, himself speculated that new nuclear would remain part of the energy mix going forward.
Given the need for certainty in the energy sector, it is time Minister Radebe made a clear and unambiguous statement on the status of the IRP that was approved by Cabinet in December. In particular, he must tell the public once and for all whether the building of new nuclear power stations features in government’s energy plans.
The fact is that we cannot afford a R1.2 trillion nuclear deal and the sooner the project is squashed, the better. If President Ramaphosa is to deliver on his promise of a “new deal” he has no choice but to reject the nuclear deal.
The DA challenges new Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to give the South African public an unequivocal and unambiguous statement on the nuclear deal.
Yesterday, new Finance Minister Nhlanla Nene said that nuclear plans are still on the table, before adding that this would be subject to affordability.
Today, in Parliament’s Energy Portfolio Committee, the Director-General of the Department of Energy, Thabane Zulu, said that the Department of Energy is preparing a road-map to deal with nuclear.
The Director-General added that he wouldn’t be surprised if nuclear is part of the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) since nuclear is part of the Department’s energy policy.
We had hoped that President Ramaphosa’s election, and his appointment of Minister Radebe in place of Minister Mahlobo, signalled the death knell of the R1 trillion nuclear deal.
It now seems the door has been left open to go ahead with the nuclear deal. This would be a slap in the face for every South African who believed President Ramaphosa when he promised a ‘new dawn’ for our country.
It also gives credence to allegations in the public domain that it wasn’t just ‘Zupta’ politicians who benefited from illegal kickbacks in return for a nuclear deal.
In the ‘Betrayal of the Promise’ report authored by a number of respected academics, allegations are made that the ANC received R1 billion for its 2016 local election campaign in return for a nuclear deal. As the report says, on page 17:
“There are allegations that one set of transactions involved Russian funding for the local government elections, which may explain where the ANC managed to find R1 billion for this campaign.”
If the ANC as a whole benefited from illegal kickbacks, then it will be much more difficult for President Ramaphosa to renege on whatever promises have been made.
Indeed, the continued prevarication from ANC Ministers and government officials does nothing to quell the rumours that continue to swirl around nuclear procurement.
The new Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe, has been very quiet since assuming office last week. The time has come for him to break his silence by unequivocally and unambiguously rejecting the nuclear deal.
We call on him to do so without any further delay.
The DA will not hesitate to interdict any attempt by Minister of Energy, David Mahlobo, to force through a nuclear deal despite the fact that South Africa does not need or afford the estimated R1 trillion deal.
Media reports today indicate that the Energy Department has been forced to work overtime to ensure the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is ready by 14 November, a full four months ahead of when it was due.
With each passing day, it becomes clear that Minister Mahlobo was appointed to make sure that the necessary nuclear deal would be pushed through.
We will not allow Mahlobo to appease his friends, the Russians, at the expense of millions of South Africans who are struggling to survive with no jobs in a flat economy.
The DA will use every legal and Parliamentary tool at our disposal to ensure that the generations to come will not be shackled to massive debt that will compromise South Africa’s future.
The Court ruling today by the Western Cape High Court is a victory for all South Africans. The Court’s findings have greatly narrowed government’s ability to legitimately procure additional nuclear capacity.
The DA will now work to ensure that Eskom halts all work on the nuclear procurement process and will seek to guarantee that no Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued. Any attempts by Eskom to subvert the decision of the court will be challenged by the DA.
What does this mean for government’s nuclear deal?
Simply put, it means that there is no legal decision by government to procure nuclear – nuclear procurement is halted.
The Court has ruled that all Requests for Information (RFI) and potential RFPs pursuant to the outdated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Section 34 Ministerial Determinations are set aside with immediate effect. This means that Eskom must cease all work being done on nuclear procurement with immediate effect.
The judgement also suggests that future Section 34 Ministerial Determinations will be subject to public participation and require that all necessary information regarding the determination be made publically available – this would include costing and affordability assessments. We welcome this order as it will ensure much needed transparency over nuclear procurement going forward.
The court has argued that the necessary procurement processes and procedures were not completely followed. The Energy Minister and National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) were supposed to finalise the amount of nuclear and process beforehand. The following three points came out of the verdict:
• The Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Russia and South Africa for 9600MW has been set aside.
• Deals with South Korea and USA have also been set aside.
• The Section 34 determination made in 2013 by the previous Minister of Energy, Miss Joemat-Pettersson, to procure nuclear power has also been set aside as unlawful and unconstitutional.
The fight to block nuclear now returns to Parliament and the DA will use all powers at its disposal to block this unaffordable and corrupt deal.