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South African deputy president denies nuclear talks with Russia

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s deputy president David Mabuza on Thursday denied speculations that South Africa has reached or is about to reach a nuclear deal with Russia.

Mabuza told MPs that he and Russian leaders made no mention of the nuclear issue during his recent visit to Russia.

In response to a parliamentary question about whether any current or future agreements were made regarding nuclear power, Mabuza said no discussions regarding the so-called nuclear deal were held.

“No reference was made about any current and/or future agreements,” Mabuza added.

However, he said South Africa’s position on nuclear power remains that it is part of its energy mix to diversify energy sources.

“Our Integrated Resource Plan to be concluded later in the year will determine the role of nuclear in that mix,” said Mabuza.

Mabuza visited Russia in May as a special envoy appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to attend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

There have been speculations that Mabuza took the opportunity to discuss the possibility of reaching a nuclear deal with Russia.

The purpose of the visit to Russia was to deliver South Africa’s message of congratulation to Putin on his re-election and his inauguration as the president of Russia, Mabuza said.

The South African government has approved its Integrated Resource Plan of 2010-30, which provides for coal, gas, renewables and 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power as part of the energy landscape by 2030.

South Africa reportedly is looking to Russia as a potential partner in its nuclear plan, under which the latter would help build nuclear reactors at a cost of 1 trillion rand (about 75 billion U.S. dollars).

Last year, the High Court in the Western Cape ruled that the South African government’s nuclear deal is “unconstitutional and unlawful,” and ordered the government to set aside the deal.



62 arrested for blocking roads in S. Africa

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African police on Thursday arrested 62 people for blocking the roads to protest against the employment of foreigners as truck drivers.

KwaZulu-Natal police said they also impounded 51 trucks used to block the busy N3 freeway between Durban and Johannesburg.

“We have laws in this country and the full might of the law will be heard and felt,” said the Police Minister Bheki Cele, adding that the arrested drivers were charged with public violence and obstructing traffic.

“Police action will be very tough in maintaining law and order. This barbaric behavior will not be tolerated,” he added.

The minister said the government is willing to engage those drivers who follow the right channel.

The freeway was cleared in the afternoon.


South African Parliament welcomes court ruling on political funding

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Parliament on Thursday welcomed a court ruling that political parties must disclose their sources of private funding so as to ensure transparency and accountability.

The Constitutional Court ruled earlier in the day that the 2000 Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) is invalid and unconstitutional as it does not provide for disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The court directs Parliament to amend the Act to bring it in line with the Constitution and to take any other measures it deems appropriate.

“Parliament welcomes this judgment and notes that it, in many respects, accords with the initiative it (Parliament) had already taken in drafting a Political Party Funding Bill which is currently being considered by its Ad Hoc Committee on Political Funding,” parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

To give effect to this judgment, Parliament will liaise with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha with the view to facilitate a speedy implementation of the terms of this judgment, Mothapo said.

The new bill is expected to address concerns about over-reliance by political parties on private donations as well as the secrecy that clouds political party financing.

There have been concerns that the secrecy that clouds political party financing could damage democratic processes and lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of certain private funders.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, political parties in the country have been united in refusing to open their books, fueling perceptions that anonymous donations from masked sources subvert democratic processes, lead to a manipulation of public policy positions in favor of those private interests and dilute the voice of citizens.

Parliament set up a multiparty special committee in July last year to look into the issue.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has voiced its support for the regulation of private financing of political parties.

The party said political financing must be transparent in a way that will promote and support democracy.



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