High Court rules SA nuclear deal unlawful and unconstitutional

Earthlife Africa, which brought the case, says the judgment vindicates its argument that the process government has followed was unlawful.

Several protesters took to the streets in Cape Town in protest against government’s nuclear build programme on 22 February 2017. Picture: Xolani Koyana/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Government's nuclear plans have been ruined and all deals are off the table.

The Western Cape High Court on Wednesday morning ruled that government's decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Earthlife Africa, which brought the case, says the judgment vindicates its argument that the process government has followed was unlawful because it failed to consult the public about its decision.

Wednesday's judgment also makes all deals that government has pursued with Russia and the US invalid.

Judge Lee Bozalek found in favour of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute that government had flouted due process by not first debating in Parliament its decision to procure 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The case was first brought in October 2015, when Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI) argued that former Energy Minister Tina Joemat Pettersen had not consulted the public nor Parliament.

They also argued that taxpayers' could not afford the trillion rand bill to enter into deals with Russia, the US and others.

SAFCEI's Liz McDaid said they have been vindicated.

"Times like this it's fantastic to see our judicial systems are working. This means there is space for accountable government."

Judge Bozalek also granted a costs order against government for a legal bill that's run into millions of rand.

Meanwhile, Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe says the power utility is still studying the ruling and will comment later, if necessary.

Earthlife's Makoma Lekalakala says it was important to hold government accountable.

“We always said the nuclear deal was a drop in the ocean, and this nuclear deal is just going to put a larger crisis in the South African political and economic sphere.”

If you are making energy decisions for the country, such decision has to benefit the people of South Africa - not an elite few.

Liz McDaid of SAFCEI

Listen to Liz McDaid speaking to Stephen Grootes about the failed nuclear deal below: