In April 2021 Peter Becker launched a high court application to review the decision by Minister Mantashe to dismiss him from the Board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). A previous post included the Record of Decision which is a complete record of all the information which the Minister considered when he made the decision. According to the rules of the court, this allowed Becker to supplement his founding affidavit to address any new information which came to light via the release of the Record of Decision.
Below is the full text of that Supplementary Founding Affidavit (SFA).
One of the first things covered is the issue of neutrality of the NNR. One of reasons given for his dismissal was that Becker was not neutral about nuclear energy, which was a presented as a requirement for being on the Board of the NNR. This issue is somewhat unclear, as can be seen from these quotes:
“The NNR is an independent regulator that does not promote or oppose nuclear activities in South Africa …”
Minister Mantashe in the letter of dismissal of Becker in February 2022.
“Considering that the Minister of Energy is also in charge of the promotion of nuclear energy and given that the Minister appoints the NNR Board and CEO, approves NNR’s budget and promulgates regulations, the INIR team is of the view that the separation between the regulatory functions and the promotional activities is not adequate, thus calling into question the effective independence of the NNR.“
The International Atomic Energy Agency writing in a 2013 report on South Africa.
“If you resist nuclear and you [are] a board member, I fire you, simple. You can’t be in a board of something you’re not advocating for. We want nuclear there in Port Elizabeth.“
Minister Mantashe as quoted in a News24 article in May 2022.
“… the resistance by civil society compels the Regulator to have further external stakeholder engagements to make the public more aware of the vital role of nuclear power in the country’s clean energy technology and in the energy mix.”
Dr T Motshudi, Chairperson of the NNR Board writing in the 2022-2023 NNR Annual Performance Plan.
This SFA also responds to the Decision Memorandum which was first revealed by the release of the Record of Decision. The SFA claims “The Memorandum betrays the fundamental conflation of the desirability of nuclear activities and the safety thereof”, and that it contains factual errors.
The SFA also responds to another newly revealed document in the Record of Decision which is the first document formally presented to the Minister about this issue in the form of a letter to the Minister written by the Chair of the Board.
Finally, the SFA asks the court to extends the term of Becker’s office equal to the time he is excluded from Board activities. With a court date only in November, this is likely to be at least a year.
Here is the full text of the Supplementary Founding Affidavit:
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