Court battle over alleged nuke deal resumes
Petru Saal | 2017-02-22 17:08:39.0
Earthlife Africa have asked the court to declare the deal‚ signed off by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson‚ unlawful and unconstitutional. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images / Business Day / Trevor Samson
The court battle between social justice organisations and the government over the alleged R1-trillion proposed nuclear deal with Russia – the biggest ever procurement by the government – resumed in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA-JHB) and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) have dragged the Department of Energy to court for procuring this arrangement under a veil of secrecy.
They have asked the court to declare the deal‚ signed off by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson‚ unlawful and unconstitutional.
Spokesperson for Earthlife‚ Makoma Lekalakala‚ said it is ”embarrassing” that they have to turn to the courts because the government refused to divulge details of the deal which is of great public interest.
“We wondered why the government wanted to build nuclear plants especially after what happened in Hiroshima. Nuclear is also very costly so this deal is on the brink of bankrupting the country‚” said Lekalakala.
Proceedings resumed in the Western Cape High Court after the matter was postponed in December. Adrian Pole‚ acting for the organisations‚ argued that a deal of such magnitude should have been reviewed by Parliament before a final decision was made by Joemat-Pettersson.
“There is a fundamental distinction between executive action and administrative action. The mere classification of executive action doesn’t mean it cannot be reviewed under legality and procedural rationality. There is no species of action that cannot be reviewed before the court” said Pole.
Pole added that the legislative power that has been given to the minister has ”far reaching consequences”.
Many social organisations lent their support to Earthlife by demonstrating outside the court while proceedings were underway.
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan made no mention of the deal in his budget speech.