NATIONAL NEWS - Energy expert and EE business Intelligence MD Chris Yelland dropped a bombshell on Twitter on Wednesday morning, saying that the entire board of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) has tendered its resignation to mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
In July last year, Moneyweb reported that Necsa has burnt through six CEOs and two chairmen in seven months.
The once-profitable state-owned enterprise under the previous board is now a financial wreck, asking parliament for a R500 million bailout.
Yelland revealed that the five board members, including the chairperson, resigned, due to the “dysfunctional” relationship between Necsa and Mantashe. This was due to “his apparent unwillingness to address the deep financial problems facing Necsa,” Yelland said.
“Any decisions made by this current board are unlawful,” a judge ruled in October 2019.
“They were unlawfully appointed, they are unlawfully occupying their seats, and all decisions they make must be subject to review. This is quite apart from the fact that the board is inquorate [lacks enough members to make up a quorum].”
Much of Necsa’s current malaise is blamed on former energy minister Jeff Radebe.
Zolani Masoleng, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) branch chair at Necsa, said last year that the current “Jeff Radebe board” and its executives had no credible solutions to the crisis.
“All they are offering is lip service, endless excuses, blame game and abdicating responsibility.
“Things are drifting to a costly disaster under their watch,” Masoleng told Moneyweb.
South Africa is the only country in history to have dismantled its nuclear weapons programme in the run-up to democratic elections, but it continues to be able to produce nuclear power. Necsa exports radioisotopes that are used in medicine (such as cancer treatments) and performs research in the nuclear energy sector.
Since taking over the energy department in Cyril Ramaphosa’s then new cabinet, Radebe made a U-turn on South Africa’s commitment to a nuclear energy deal with Russia, saying it would be too expensive. He also quickly signed long-delayed agreements with independent power producers in the renewables sector.
Updates to follow as more information is made available.