South Africa’s government may appeal last week’s court judgment declaring a cooperation pact with Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom unlawful, the energy minister said on Tuesday.
South Africa and Russia signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) in 2014 for cooperation between Rosatom and South African utility Eskom, which aims to build 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear capacity to wean the African nation off coal.
The pact drew criticism from civil society and environmental groups which accused the government of seeking to reach secret deals with Russia without holding an open bidding process.
On Wednesday, the High Court deemed the pact unlawful and said any actions taken by the government so far to start procurement should also be put aside.
“Do we have to appeal the judgment? We are looking at those options,” Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi told parliament’s energy committee before a meeting of the ministry’s legal team on Wednesday to discuss the legal issue.
South Africa, which has struggled to keep pace with rising demand for electricity, is seeking to diversify its energy mix away from coal-fired plants that supply most of its power.
The court ruling risks delaying the government’s plan to add new capacity to the already strained power generation network.
In other remarks to the energy committee, the minister commented on an investigation into the sale of oil reserves by the state-owned Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF), without Treasury approval. SFF had said it was rotating stock not selling it.
“I can confirm that it was not a rotation of stock, it was a sale of stock,” Kubayi said.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Edmund Blair)