Environmental groups take energy minister to court over nuclear agreements

This article appeared on eNCA

JOHANNESBURG – While South Africa has signed a number of intergovernmental framework agreements with Russia, China, South Korea and the USA on the country’s planned nuclear development, environmental groups say they are frustrated with the lack of transparency.

On Monday, they filed court papers challenging the constitutionality of the agreements.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institution want the intergovernmental framework agreements for nuclear procurement set aside.

They say their attempts to get information on the nuclear procurement deal have been blocked.

“We are concerned citizens standing up against the unlawful and unconstitutional exercise of power by government, and in the public interest are going to court in an effort to protect our constitutional rights,” said Makoma Lekalakala, senior programme officer at Earthlife.

Safcei’s Liz McDaid says that faith communities in their network are increasingly concerned about the government’s continued support for nuclear energy despite a lack of evidence that SA can afford it.

“Ethical governance has to be the cornerstone of true democracy,” she said.

The organisations are represented by Adrian Pole Attorneys, assisted by the legal resource centre.

The application will challenge the legality and constitutionality of:

• the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on strategic partnership and nuclear cooperation signed with Russia in 2014

• the tabling of the Russian IGA in Parliament under a provision that makes the agreement binding on the international plane without the need for parliamentary ratification

• the tabling of outdated IGAs on nuclear cooperation entered into with the USA and Republic of Korea

Environmental lawyer Adrian Pole says that the signing of the binding agreements is unconstitutional and unlawful because proper process wasn’t followed.

“In terms of section 34 of the electricity regulation act the minister in consultation with the energy regulator is required to make a determination on whether new electricity generation is needed and how much new nuclear generation capacity is required,” he said.

This should have been done with Nersa during a public participation process said Pole.

Section 217 of the Constitution will also be a point to use in the argument.


The minister of energy is expected to respond to the application within 10 days.

Watch the eNCA video 

To view the full unsigned court application see below:

20 September Nuclear Founding Affidavit Revised Update Ac_mdp_ac v3 AP (Makoma Rev) v4 Ac (Final Rev 1 WC)

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