On Thursday 17 January, three members of the allegedly disbanded Necsa board will challenge South Africa’s energy minister, Jeff Radebe, in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to set aside his order for their removal.
Radebe accused the entire Board of “insubordination” and “defiance”, and claimed summarily to have removed all Board members from office on dubious grounds and flawed procedure.
In a media statement, the three board members state that far from acting in a defiant and insubordinate manner they had taken a principled stand in the interests of Necsa and South Africa.
Necsa’s chairman, Kelvin Kemm, the CEO, Phumzile Tshelane, and Chair of the Audit and Compliance Subcommittee of the Board, Pamela Bosman, state that, not only was the minister’s action procedurally unfair and irregular, it was a smokescreen.
The dismissed board members allege the real agenda was to remove the board members who opposed an illegal deal. Read more: South African energy minister replaces NECSA board
The ‘dirty’ deal
That deal, which involves the minister’s desire to sell the valuable 100% Necsa owned subsidiary, NTP Radio Isotopes, to an American company, should be investigated and all the facts, including any payments made and/or promised, disclosed to the public, the statement explains.
Necsa is the only state owned enterprise that makes a regular profit, mainly from exports, and pays taxes.
Radebe disputes the proposed deal, but the facts show otherwise. Records of meetings, conversations and related developments show that a plan was in place to sell 60% of NTP.
According to the statement, evidence of the minister’s plans demonstrates that the timing and manner of his action towards the Board was in response to his plan being exposed before it had been implemented. “Radebe’s real motivation was apparently to replace principled Board members with subordinate and compliant members,” advise the dismissed trio.
Tshelane said that he attended meetings in which this plan was discussed and that his only “act of defiance” was to say “no” to this significant income-earning asset being sold to foreigners.
“From then, I was a target for removal by the minister. I stood in the way of his plan then and now. There is no valid reason why I should leave Necsa under a cloud and therefore I must fight his defamatory allegations. There are still South Africans who do the right thing and resist corruption for the sake of their country and their children”.
Kemm said that the irregular removal of the Board was an orchestrated plot to prevent them from doing their ethical duty to Necsa and South Africa.
“The minister’s allegations are red herrings designed to conceal the truth. Far from acting in so-called defiance, we tried everything we could to contact and engage with the minister over many months. He refused to work with us and fabricated bogus charges. He wants to destroy our careers and reputations to facilitate a corrupt deal. We cannot stand by and let him get away with it”.
The three Board members now face daunting legal proceedings to clear their names and reputations. They must refute