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Will Joemat-Pettersson issue request for proposals for procurement of nuclear power?

The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa’s nuclear build programme.

FILE: Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Doubt has been cast on whether the request for proposals for the procurement of nuclear power will be issued on Friday as promised by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa's nuclear build programme, which President Jacob Zuma has made a top priority but which has been shrouded in secrecy and is the subject of much controversy.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says she doesn't believe Joemat-Pettersson will be able to go ahead because the government's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has yet to be updated.

The IRP forecasts the country's energy demand, spells out generation plans and determines the required mix of energy sources.

Pandor was answering questions at a briefing by economics cluster ministers this afternoon.

Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament on 7 September the nuclear programme would kick off this Friday with the formal issuing of a request for proposals.

But Pandor told journalists this afternoon she wasn't certain the call for proposals could proceed this week.

Pandor says the next economics cluster meeting of Cabinet is set to discuss the versions of both the IRP, which projects energy demand and ways of meeting it, as well as the integrated energy plan - a kind of roadmap for energy provision.

Department of Energy official Thandiwe Maimane initially told the briefing the request for proposals would be issued on Friday.

"What is happening on Friday is, as the minister announced on 7 September, that the RFP [request for proposals] will be issued by the department towards the beginning of the implementation of the... nuclear programme."

But Pandor then appeared to contradict her.

"On the IRP (Integrated Resource Plan), our next cluster meeting is set to discuss the next iteration of this, as well as the IEP [integrated energy plan] - and once we've processed what is proposed as a cluster, we would then take that to the formal Cabinet process and once that has been done, we will, of course, share the decisions as well as the documents will the public.

"I'm not certain… that we would be able to proceed with a call for proposals immediately this week. That was not my understanding from what was said and I think it is important for us to have agreed the IRP at minimum before we proceed, so I cannot comment on what minister Joemat-Pettersson is planning for Friday, but I'm almost certain that she wouldn't be able to publish the RFP on that date - but let's wait to see."

Asked for clarity, Maimane responded, "As a department we can verify this date and come back to the interested journalists."