Support for SAFCEI's SONA Press Statement

  • Published:

The following organisations and individuals support SAFCEI's 11th February Press Statement on proposed nuclear deals:

(Find the Press release "Give power back to the people" below)

  • CANE, including Save Bantamsklip and Namakwaland Aksie vir die Gemeenskap en Omgewingsjustisie
  • The Christ Church Constantia Green Team
  • noPEnuke
  • A Rocha RMC
  • Earthlife Africa Cape Town
  • EarthLife Africa Johannesburg
  • Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG)
  • Pelindaba Working Group
  • Thyspunt Alliance
  • Life Rituals

Christ Church Constantia Green Team comments: "The South African community should be seeing the power crisis as an opportunity. It makes more sense to employ our hard earned South African Rands in our own country, supporting our own people, than spending them off shore at hectically outrageous exchange rates."

To add your support please send an e-mail to


SAFCEI calls on the President, as the head of the South African government, to give power back to the people, to invest in energy security for the real benefit of the people of South Africa and not be seduced by the false promises of the nuclear industry.

On the eve of the state of the nation address, SAFCEI questions why we are rushing into a nuclear future.   The decision to build 9600 mw of costly nuclear energy will have a direct and significant detrimental impact on all South African citizens, including future generations as electricity users will ultimately bear the costs of such unprecedented expenditure. Taking over ten years to build a nuclear power station is not the answer to Eskom’s Emergency. In South Africa, renewable energy plants have added 1300MW to the grid in just over two years (with a further 1200MW expected by end of 2015).

”This nuclear deal poses an enormous corruption risk. It is happening in secret and will make the arms deal look like a walk in the park", states SAFCEI’s vice chairperson, Moulana Riaz Simjee.

Can South Africans afford ever increasing electricity prices to pay for nuclear energy? Poorer communities have previously explained that rising electricity costs meant that poor people had to choose whether to buy electricity or food[1].

In accounting to parliament in 2014, Eskom stated that 60% of our coal fired power stations are older than the recommended design age of 30 years resulting in increased breakdowns and increased need for maintenance. Life extensions and environmental reftro-fits will require R50-R260 bn, and Eskom’s cry to MPs was for increased funds.

SAFCEI spokesperson, Liziwe McDaid said, “What is not questioned is Eskom’s continued reliance on non-renewable sources of fuel such as coal, gas or nuclear to meet South Africa’s energy security needs.  We believe that blind inflexible adherence to nuclear energy will undermine energy security, which South Africa cannot afford”.

In recent lawyers’ letters to the Ministers of Energy, Public Enterprise and Finance, SAFCEI highlights that any nuclear procurement process based on the outdated electricity plan would be fatally flawed and irrational.

SAFCEI's lawyers argue that our legislative framework is incomplete and unsatisfactory:

  • The draft Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) is not yet finalized.
  • The IRP2010  (the previous electricity plan) is outdated and is in the process of being updated. This has not been completed.
  • To date, there are no regulations dealing with new generation capacity derived from nuclear power.
  • The law requires that the minister establish a tendering process that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective.

SAFCEI asks the Ministers to confirm that such energy planning processes would be completed before government starts on a nuclear procurement process.  The completion of such energy planning may render nuclear redundant.

As people of faith we express our deep concern that our public policies are not in line with the best options for preserving our natural environment, saving energy and alleviating poverty.  SAFCEI believes therefore that there is an ethical imperative to expand renewable energy, which is cheaper to build, has zero fuel costs, and can provide sustainable, affordable energy for the people of South Africa.

AREVA, probably the largest nuclear builder in the world, filed losses for the third year in a row, of €2.5bn in 2011, €100 million in 2012 and €500 million in 2013. In December 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded AREVA credit rating to “BBB-“ rating, as well as its stand-alone credit profile of bbb-“ (World Nuclear Status report 2014).

By contrast, globally, a record of 39 GW of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in 2013, which required less financing than in 2012 when only 31 GW was deployed.

“SAFCEI believes that the government's current approach to energy infrastructure investment is outdated and that it is immoral to commit scarce public funds to propping up an energy system that can no longer serve the interests of the people of South Africa” says Sean Brown, Operations Director for SAFCEI.

SAFCEI calls on government to abide by the democratic principle: that of political leadership in service to, and accountable to the people.  SAFCEI calls on the president to enable a meaningful national dialogue on the financial implications and economic impacts before embarking on a path which will potentially bankrupt the country.  Such a dialogue is long overdue.



For further information, please contact Liz McDaid

SAFCEI governance programme

Email:           0827315643

Note for journalists:

SAFCEI has appointed legal counsel to write to the Ministers of Finance (sent 10th February 2015), Public Enterprises (10th February 2015) and Energy (sent 30th January 2015) to ask for confirmation that any nuclear procurement would comply with due process.

At a board meeting in October 2014, SAFCEI elected to seek legal counsel to investigate the nuclear contracts which South Africa had signed.  Faith communities are gravely concerned at the government’s continued support for nuclear energy despite evidence that South Africa cannot afford it.

In November 2014, SAFCEI submitted a number of PAIA applications to government departments regarding the nuclear framework agreements, departments including Treasury and the Department of Energy.

For Example, SAFCEI asked Treasury for all “Records reflecting decisions taken related to the financial obligations and the economic impact of the decisions reflected in intergovernmental agreements on current strategic partnerships and cooperation in nuclear energy” in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

In its response to SAFCEI, the treasury admitted that they had not given any input into the financial implications of any nuclear deals, and SAFCEI voiced its concern that the “South Africa nation has entered into an international agreement without doing their financial homework”.

The Department of Energy has also responded to the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute’s (SAFCEI) application for information regarding the nuclear deals.

The DoE has refused to release any affordability or feasibility study because the process of deciding on the nuclear build involves “technical, scientific and commercially sensitive information and if released prematurely could prejudice the interests of the other parties, as well as the State and negatively impact on the process”. However, SAFCEI’s response from Treasury to a similar request regarding the nuclear deals was that “no decisions related to the financial obligations and economic impact have been taken by the National Treasury.”

The process to determine whether South Africa should build new nuclear capacity should be determined by South Africans and open to public scrutiny; firstly on the constitutional principle of democratic participation by the people of the country in decisions that affect them, and secondly because such a decision would impact negatively on the electricity price, which would have a major impact on business growth and on energy security for the poor.


SAFCEI is a multi-faith organization which supports faith communities in caring for the earth. It has a broad spectrum of multi-faith membership, including Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Quaker, and a wide range of Christian denominations.  Through collaboration, networking, research and action, SAFCEI seeks to:

  • raise environmental awareness
  • engage in formulating policy and ethical guidelines within faith communities
  • facilitate environmental responsibility and action
  • confront environmental and socio-economic injustices
  • support environmental training and learning.


SAFCEI has briefed ODAC to assist with the PAIA request.

ODAC’s mission is to promote open and transparent democracy; foster a culture of corporate and government accountability; and assist people in South Africa to be able to realise their human rights. By promoting transparency, enhancing access to information, supporting whistleblowers and liberating data, we are forwarding a culture of accountability and openness to meet the needs of citizens.

Adrian Pole Environmental Justice Attorney

SAFCEI has briefed environmental justice attorney Adrian Pole to provide advice on the nuclear procurement process and associated environmental impacts. Adrian Pole Environmental Law provides legal support to green and environmental justice NGOs / CBOs; and promotes sound governance and fair, informed environmental decision-making.

NERSA MYPD hearings