Mantashe loses appeal application with costs on Peter Becker’s dismissal at National Nuclear Regulator

  • South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has lost another legal battle at the tax payers expense.
  • Along with the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), Mantashe appealed a high court judgment handed down on 19 January 2023 by Judge Babalwa Mantame which found their decision to discharge Peter Becker from the NNR to be  unconstitutional. Read more 
  • Judge Babalwa Mantame at the time said that Mantashe acted in “bad faith and with ulterior motive”.

The effect of Judge Babalwa Mantame’s original ruling is that Becker must be reinstated. Becker, who is the spokesperson for the Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA), was appointed as a non-executive director of the NNR board to represent communities affected by nuclear activities.

Becker was nominated by a number of civil society organisations, including the KAA, which is opposed to further building of reactors at Koeberg Power Station and extending its lifespan.

He held the KAA’s views prior to his appointment and, according to Becker, they were known by the minister.

However, after he gave an interview (published in Energize magazine) in his capacity as KAA spokesperson, and convened a meeting with civil society organisations, he was deemed to be “conflicted” and that he was not complying with his “fiduciary obligations”.

Becker was suspended and then fired by Mantashe, who publicly stated at the time of his suspension: “If you resist nuclear and you [are]a board member, I fire you, simple. You can’t be [on]a board of something you’re not advocating for. We want nuclear there in Port Elizabeth”.

The 40 year Koeberg nuclear plant poses a high risk to civil society and the country’s energy security at large as it undergoes a controversial life extension programme. Both 920MW generation units are currently out of service and face extended and costly delays under the extension programme. Read more

Last week Friday judgement on the appeal was handed down by Judge Mantame who stated that the respondents have not taken this Court into its confidence and identified the compelling reasons why this matter should be heard by an appeal court, other than to give this Court’s judgment their own meaning. “The fact that they preferred their own interpretation to the comments and findings of the Court could not be said to be a justifiable reason/s for the matter to be heard by an appeal court, ” reads the judgement.

Judge Mantame also ordered Mantashe and the NNR to pay the costs of the application.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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