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Mon May 30 20:24:49 SAST 2016

Step one: Sort out the mess at the nuclear corporation

The Times Editorial | 28 January, 2016 00:23

Power struggles, factionalism and claims of impropriety at state institutions have become so commonplace they are losing their shock value.

A plethora of government departments, the police, the National Prosecuting Authority, SAA, the public broadcaster, even SARS, have been infected, to varying degrees, by this blight.

If left unchecked, it is inevitable that critical skills will be lost as key employees resign or are fired, while staff morale is sapped and services to the public are compromised.

The latest public entity to be affected is the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, which is involved in two court actions over allegations of corporate governance breaches.

Phumzile Tshelane, the corporation's chief executive and a supporter of the Zuma administration's nuclear ambitions, is centrally involved in both cases.

The Nuclear Energy Corporation, meanwhile, is reportedly in disarray.

According to Business Day, it has yet to finalise its financial statements for the 2014-2015 financial year and is without a full board.

Several independent directors resigned, or left after their terms ended last year, after reportedly clashing with Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

It would be tempting to dismiss the ructions at the corporation as just another public entity gone awry.

But the fact is that this is the institution that will play a key role in the government's controversial plan to procure eight nuclear power reactors at a cost, experts warn, that could exceed R1-trillion.

Moreover, the government has decided to go ahead with the procurement and proceed to the next step, which is to invite tenders, even though the nuclear building programme has not been properly costed.

Surely the mess at the nuclear corporation needs to be sorted out before we take a single step further down the nuclear road.

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