In the always ever-changing world of South African politics and economics, it was announced that President Zuma had given the Energy Minister the go ahead to sign a deal with a French organisation in the cooperation of alternatives forms of energy. Announcing the decision on Friday, the Presidency, in a statement, announced that President Jacob Zuma had given the Minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson the nod to sign the nuclear deal between the South African government and their French counterparts. Presidential speaker, Mr Mac Maharaj added that President Jacob Zuma has, in terms of section 231 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, granted authority to Joemat-Pettersson, to sign an agreement on co-operation in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, between the government of the Republic of South Africa and the government of the French Republic.” The details of the deal,he said, would be discussed by the minister and his French counterpart.
The decision comes against the background of an Eskom that has taken four years in order to arrive at a decision as to who would manufacture and supply six new steam generators for its Koeberg Nuclear Station. They had finally narrowed it down to two companies, Areva, the French company which ended up being accepted and Westinghouse, an American-Japanesecompany. As far as the Eskom procurement committee was concerned, the company that could best do the job was the latter company. However, as soon as the politicians started getting involved, there was a change in preferences, resulting in the R4.1-billion tender going the French way.
This whole furore comes against the backdrop of the public outcry after President Zuma travelled on his own to meet with his Russian counterpart to discuss exchanges in the nuclear energy field. After some criticism, the presidency had announced that the Russian trip had only been to discuss the possibility of bilateral trade in the field. The announcement by the presidency will most likely put to rest the speculation about nuclear power procurement in South Africa. In addition, it is anticipated that progress will be made quickly in the important area of nuclear power.