Black businesses seek greater participation in nuclear build programme

February 2, 2016, 5:01am

By Linda Ensor, Business Day Live
Photo: Thinkstock

THE Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) and the Black Business Council have created a business nuclear energy desk to ensure that black businesses benefit from the government’s nuclear build programme.

The nuclear energy desk will provide a platform for black business to interact with Necsa and other relevant entities on the programme with the aim of sharing information, building experience and networking. It will also identify training needs to develop technical skills so that black business can participate in the build programme.

A directory of black companies that could participate would be drawn up.

The creation of the desk comes amid reports that Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane is facing court action on a number of fronts that raise questions about his leadership of the corporation, which is said to be in a shambles.

Necsa is operating without a functioning board or a permanently appointed CEO. Mr Tshelane’s contract has been renewed monthly since July last year.

Mr Tshelane said past mistakes regarding black participation in business ventures could not be repeated. "The nuclear new build programme should lead to industrialisation in SA with meaningful participation by black business practitioners," he said.

The decision to create the desk emerged from a meeting on Friday at which the preparations for the new nuclear build programme and the opportunities it offered black business were discussed. The black business delegation highlighted their previous experiences with previous mega projects.

Black Business Council president Ndaba Ntsele insisted that the council and its members would not "be mere spectators. We have to engage government and other stakeholders as the programme unfolds. The programme must have local content at all levels."

It was recently reported that the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) had applied to the High Court in Pretoria for Mr Tshelane to be placed on probation, for behaviour inconsistent with his duties as a director under the Companies Act. This included violating the corporation’s motor vehicle policy and refusing to comply with a board instruction to reimburse it for the personal use of a company vehicle.

A former Necsa director, Medi Mokuena, has also applied to the court to have him Mr Tshelane removed from his post, and for him and the remaining directors to be declared delinquent under the Companies Act.

The case against Mr Tshelane is the latest in a string of accusations of abuses of corporate governance at Necsa and conflict between executives and the board of directors.

The corporation has not finalised its annual financial statements for 2014-15, which were due to be tabled in Parliament by the end of September.