Members of the Right 2 Know Campaign protested outside the Eskom offices in Sunninghill on 22 February in order to voice their discontent with the planned R1 trillion nuclear procurement deal.
About 15 Right to Know campaigners spent hours outside the entrance to the Eskom offices at Megawatt Park on Maxwell Drive, singing struggle songs and holding banners and posters protesting the deal.
“We want to voice our unhappiness about the secrecy and potential for corruption that surrounds this [nuclear deal],” explained Carina Conradie, an access to information organiser for Right 2 Know.
“The lack of public participation and the secretiveness regarding official documents are very concerning to us.”
The controversial plan aims to build several new nuclear power plants in South Africa in order to supply the country with over 9 000 megawatts of energy, with the cost estimated at anywhere between R500 billion and R1 trillion to complete the project, which is roughly the size of the national budget.The government has been silent on how the deal would be funded, and reports detailing studies into the cost have been officially classified since the deal was first announced in 2013. Critics have also pointed out the potential for large-scale corruption that could result from such a project.
“We aren’t necessarily against the use of nuclear power,” Conradie clarified.
“But renewable energy would be cheaper, and provide an estimated 200 000 jobs for South Africans.
“We want the process to be transparent and inclusive, and one that the people of South Africa are part of. As my colleagues are saying [in the protest chants] ‘no decisions about us, without us’.”
The protesters, represented by Right 2 Know provincial coordinator General Moyo, handed over a memorandum of demands during the protest, which was accepted by General Rakau, the head of security at the offices, Tito Zwane, the general manager of human resources and Karabo Rakgolela, in charge of Eskom real estate on behalf of Eskom.
“I will not comment on this memorandum now,” said Rakau to the protesters.
“But I will make sure it gets to the right people.”
The Right 2 Know protest was just one of those organised by social justice organisations across the country in protest of the deal.
Other protests included one held by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg in Braamfontein, The Southern African Faith communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) protest outside the Department of Engergy in Pretoria and an organised march on Parliament and the Cape High Court in Cape Town.
The protests were planned for today both because it is the same day that the 2017 national budget is announced in Parliament, and because today is the beginning of a court case in the Western Cape High Court to decide whether the Department of Engery’s 2013 decision to procure 9,600 MW of nuclear power should be set aside.