South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Corporation Former Board Members Cry Foul

  • The Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) last week released a damming report on Necsa and casts doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern.   
  • Necsa’s suspended CEO, Phumzile Tshelane and suspended Chair, Dr Kelvin Kemm, believe that the negative report is part of a strategy orchestrated to discredit members of the Board standing in the way of a corrupt deal that would see Energy Minister Jeff Radebe sell the lucrative Necsa owned nuclear medicine subsidiary, NTP Radioisotopes, to an American company.

The Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) report for 2017/18 released last week is misleading and should be investigated by the media, the Nuclear Energy Corporation SA (Necsa) former board members declared in a statement.

During the month of June 2018, South Africa’s Pelindaba nuclear facility outside Johannesburg was shut down due to safety concerns. This resulted in the total shutdown of the NTP Radioisotopes plant which produces vital supplies of nuclear medicine and radiation-based products. The plant became operational again in November 2018.

The AGSA report delivered an adverse outcome on Necsa and casts doubt on its ability to continue as a going concern.  “The items cited as adverse findings had been systematically and procedurally dealt with to the extent that, had they been included, the audit outcome would have been positive. The fact that the work was not taken into account by the AGSA is suspicious,” said Necsa’s suspended CEO, Phumzile Tshelane.

He and Necsa’s suspended Chair, Dr Kelvin Kemm, believe that the negative report is part of a strategy orchestrated to discredit members of the Board standing in the way of a corrupt deal that would see Energy Minister Jeff Radebe sell the lucrative Necsa owned nuclear medicine subsidiary, NTP Radioisotopes, to an American company.

Radebe denies this which is why Board members want the facts investigated and revealed. A document with full details has been in President Ramaphosa’s hands for several months. Tshelane said: “Since Radebe’s new Board could not reasonably address AGSA’s audit queries, this led to the acceptance of a Report that creates the false impression that the AG’s queries were not addressed satisfactorily.  Our removal facilitated a misleading audit.”

Radebe accused the previous autonomous Board of so-called “insubordination” and “defiance”, and summarily removed the entire Board without following standard procedures. Tshelane, Kemm and Audit and Compliance board member, Pamela Bosman, launched an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court to have their removal set aside.

Three days before the hearing set for 17 January, the Minister’s legal team submitted over 800 pages of additional documents. The effect was that it had to be removed from the “urgent” role. The case was then postponed to February 12 and then to 10 June for the court to “find” an available judge.

Tshelane, Kemm and Bosman say that, not only was the Minister’s action procedurally irregular and unfair, it was a smokescreen to hide the real agenda, which was to remove people opposing a corrupt deal.

In the previous year, Necsa was the only state owned enterprise to make a profit and to pay tax. Necsa was awarded a trophy by the AGSA for delivering a clean audit. When Radebe took office, his dubious agenda to sell NTP, and the campaign to discredit those standing up to him, became apparent.

The new Board is due to present Necsa financial statements in Parliament on 5 March 2018.

Kemm and Tshelane believe that they may be manipulated to discredit the previous Board, and subvert disciplinary proceedings against Tshelane, and the court case.

Author: GBA News Desk/ESI-Africa Contributor

This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.

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