Heated email exchanges between Energy Minister Jeff Radebe and the axed board of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) have laid bare the events leading up to the structure’s dissolution.
The email exchange, which City Press has seen, indicates that matters came to a head between last month and this month, during which time the two sides exchanged hostile, accusatory messages before Radebe finally fired the board this week.
The board’s dissolution and the “precautionary suspension” of Necsa’s chief executive Phumzile Tshelane comes after Radebe accused the board in his emails of “general financial mismanagement” pertaining to “unauthorised international travel and remuneration irregularities”.
In an email addressed to board chairperson Rosemary Mosia on November 22, Radebe expressed his displeasure about the “unauthorised increase of board remuneration”.
According to the Nuclear Energy Act, the board ought to have been remunerated under terms and conditions stipulated and agreed upon by the minister.
In his email, Radebe argues that the remuneration rate set for the board and approved by the minister was R3 685 per board meeting and R2 483 per board committee meeting.
However, the company’s 2017/18 annual financial statements showed that the board was receiving much more than that.
Radebe goes on to accuse the board of “not adhering” to the department of energy’s instructions and directives, after the board challenged the department and Radebe of usurping its powers on three counts.
The boards of Necsa and its subsidiary, NTP Radioisotopes, were angry after being ordered to reinstate axed NTP managing director Tina Eboka and two other executives on July 6.
Radebe intervened in what they described as “a properly board authorised human resources disciplinary process by disregarding the powers and authority of the NTP board and the Necsa board as shareholder”.
In a letter dated July 19, Radebe informed the Necsa board that the NTP would no longer be reporting to Necsa, but to Deputy Energy Minister Thembisile Majola.
The board argues that Radebe, “by one fell swoop, managed to do away with common law principles of powers and responsibilities of boards, and the pivotal separation of powers between shareholders and boards of directors”.
Radebe was also accused of trying to reverse Necsa board appointments to the NTP as he allegedly told the board that the powers to appoint members rested with him.
On Tuesday, Radebe sent Mosia and the board an email informing them that, after some consideration, he had concluded that the relationship between him and the board had “broken down irretrievably”.
He concluded that the board had “rendered itself extremely dysfunctional and its continued existence was no longer tenable, nor in the best interests of the nuclear industry, the department of energy, the minister of energy or for the Necsa group of companies”.
Radebe then made a public announcement of his decision to disband the board on Friday.
In his announcement, Radebe slammed the board as “defiant” and replaced it with new members, including chairperson Dr Rob Adam and members Dr Ramatselamela Masango, Aadil Patel, Bishen Singh, Pulane Kingston, Matlhodi Ngwenya, Jabulani Ndlovu and Dr Pulane Elsie Molokwane.