South Africa Pushes With Nuclear Power Deal Amidst Corruption Accusations

By Regin Olimberio | May 16, 2017 05:30 AM EDT

South Africa is ironing out its nuclear power agreements following the high court's decision to block the multinational deal due to lack of oversight. South Africa is vying for a nuclear power plant fleet, costing $30 to $70 billion. There is an earlier deal with Russia to develop the facility but the judiciary branch reacts to its financial viability.

South Africa taps five other countries, namely, the United States, Russia, China, France, and South Korea for an inter-governmental deal. However, the opposition bloc thwarts the nuclear power agreement. They accused President Jacob Zuma of not being transparent. Further, the opposition said that there are too many gray areas where the administration can use the deal as a conduit for corruption.

For his defense, Zuma denied the allegations of corruption. The state energy firm Eskom backed Zuma's defense and said that the nuclear power deal is going to help reduce the damage to the environment instead. Currently, South Africa is reliant on coal-powered plants, the Eyewitness News reported.

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The South African high court ruling stressed that the nuclear power deal is counter-beneficial to the government. The ruling questioned the favorable tax incentives to Russia while South Africa shoulders most of the financial obligations. Further, there are reports that the government fails to conduct a public consultation.

The energy ministry reacts and said that the court ruling is questionable itself. However, they are not going to appeal, but will implement an improved nuclear deal instead. There will be sterner guidelines and the Parliament is to be consulted more frequently, Reuters said.

According to South African energy minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, all sectors should shy from suspicion of corruption. Instead, the focus should be given to mixed energy like the nuclear power source. He added that every sector should also come up with a viable solution since the timetable for the nuclear power program will start in June.

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