JOHANNESBURG, South African anti-nuclear power activists say they have saved the country's taxpayers 1.0 trillion Rand (about 76 billion US dollars) after the High Court in Cape Town set aside the government's deals on nuclear power on Wednesday.

Non-governmental organization (NGO) Earthlife Africa brought the application to stop government's nuclear power deals with Russia and other countries because it was not first debated in Parliament. The court case was first launched in October 2015.

On Wednesday, the government's push to build a fleet of new nuclear power plants suffered a major set-back after the High Court in Cape Town ruled that the procurement process and a pre-agreement with Russia are unconstitutional and unlawful.

In relation to the requirement of procurement of nuclear new generation capacity, made by the first respondent on the 11th of November 2013, with the concurrence of NECSA (the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa) given on the 17th of December 2013, is unlawful and unconstitutional and it's reviewed and set aside. The first respondent is to pay the cost of this application, ruled Judge Lee Bozalek in his judgment.

Nuclear activist Liz McDade said the deal had signs of corruption. When we look at how this decisions were made regarding this nuclear deal, they were done in secret, behind closed doors, cutting corners on process and not bringing things onto the proper participation, which is all the kinds of things that you associate with corruption. And given that its R1 trillion on the table, you assume that somewhere back-handers are happening."

McDade also said they had an obligation to protect the public purse. "We have already seen certain contracts being issued by the government to relatives of the President, friends and which is really a problem. So for us, this is like a roadblock to say no top state capture, no to corruption. We really think that this is the signal that the government is coming back to the rule of law."

Meanwhile, national power utility Eskom said it would take its directive from government following the High Court ruling.

Eskom Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the company would have to wait for the Energy Department to outline the way forward.

We will get the directive from the Department of Energy because the case... remember was against the Department, as it is the one that signed the MOU with various agencies around the world... so we will take a cue from government.

The ruling is against the determination that former Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed which saw several companies submit a Request for Information to qualify to the bidding process.



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