Allister Sparks made some interesting observations in BusinessDay last week:
Last week, all four of SA’s big banks closed Oakbay’s accounts, KPMG announced it would no longer audit the company’s books, and the family’s stock exchange sponsor abandoned them.
This was followed by Atul and Varun Gupta resigning their directorships of Oakbay, and Duduzane Zuma, the president’s son, from his nonexecutive chairmanship of Shiva Uranium, an Oakbay subsidiary.
There is something fishy going on here. The critical thing is that Oakbay, and particularly Shiva, a uranium mine in the North West, is central to Zuma’s eagerness to do a deal with Russia to build and operate a series of nuclear plants capable of providing Eskom with 9,600MW of electricity.
It is a deal that would make both the Guptas and the Zuma family a fortune, since Duduzane Zuma owns a sizeable slice of Shiva’s shares.
But it is a deal two finance ministers, Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene, have blocked because they deemed it unaffordable.
Sparks goes on to allege that it was Nene's resistance to the nuclear deal prompted his sacking, directly contributing to South Africa's current political crisis.
It is interesting to note that a few hours before firing Nene on that critical night, Zuma had persuaded the Cabinet to approve the 9,600MW deal — in itself an illustration of how he has packed his administration with toadies. He must have been furious when Nene refused to okay it, thus obstructing his grand plan.
I have always thought that investing in nuclear power was the worst idea ever for South Africa's power sector. There is not a single nuclear power plant in the world that has ever been cost effective. Adjusted for government incentives, research and development and waste disposal, nuclear is way more expensive than large-scale solar or wind power, not to speak of hydro, all of which have substantial potential in South Africa and the wider region.
Is now the time for Vesuvius of Zupta scandals to erupt? via Martin Plaut
As always, the best links from around the internet:
New policy on natural gas coming soon in Tanzania
The government of Tanzania is on the verge of passing a new national policy on natural gas exploitation. So far the country has no specific official policy in that sector and the new legislation wants to address specifically the issue of local content. AllAfrica/Tanzania Daily News (2)
South Africa aims for new nuclear power plants
The South African government pushes for the construction of new nuclear power plants to increase the generation of nuclear energy from 1,800 MW to 9,600 MW per year by 2030. Key financial decisions are planned to be taken this financial year. South Africa currently runs the only active nuclear power plant on the African continent and pursues a large nuclear capacity under the label of "clean" and indigenous energy. AllAfrica/SouthAfrica.info
Resources in the DR Congo
A detailed look at the trends and challenges of the natural resources sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ventures Africa
The dangers of the use mercury in gold mining
Mercury is used by the great majority of artisanal gold miners in Africa, numbering millions, but its use results in dramatic health problems. A new international treaty aims to reduce the amount of mercury used, but changing entrenched practices in local communities will be hard. The Economist
Search for oil kills whales off Madagascar
A sonar system, operated by Exxon Mobile to explore oil fields off the Madagascan coast, is the reason for the death of dozens of melon-headed whales. This is the finding of an independent scientific commission. Global Post
Three alternatives for South Sudanese oil
The governments of South Sudan and Kenya are currently planning the establishment of a new pipeline corridor to transfer Sudanese oil to the Indian Sea at Lamu. This article argues that the better alternatives would be to transfer the oil by either rail or road. AllAfrica/Pambazuka News
High hopes for Rwandan mining sector
The Rwandan government wants the country's mining exports to triple by 2017. AllAfrica/Rwanda Focus