The bishop of Manzini (Swaziland), + Jose Ponce de Leon IMC, has expressed the condolences to the Swazi nation for the death of the “reed” maidens in a terrible accident between Manzini and Mbabane. Click here for his letter Bishop Jose Speaks on The Sad Demise of Swazi “Reed” Maidens
To the People of God of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
God has blessed the Church in Southern Africa in a very special way by the gift of Benedict Daswa as the first Martyr for the faith. On 13 September 2015, he will be officially declared Blessed Benedict Daswa by Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. Cardinal Amato will be representing Pope Francis.
Benedict Daswa was a committed lay Catholic and the loving husband and father of a large family; a dedicated teacher and volunteer catechist, an active and charitable member of the community. He took seriously the call to holiness which we all have received in Baptism. He will be a role model and powerful intercessor for all the Catholics of our region and in particular for young men, husbands and fathers.
Benedict’s great moral courage and his passion for the truth led him to openly and very publicly oppose the belief and practice of witchcraft. This courageous witness to the faith led to his martyrdom. Aware of the fear caused by the practices of identifying witches, the harm this does to the fabric of social relations and the inevitable killing of innocent people, he was prepared to oppose this practice which still persists today, out of love for Christ and at the cost of his own life. For Benedict the life of every human being was sacred and precious and had to be protected and respected. In this he was a true apostle of life.
The beatification of this son of Africa means that Benedict will be officially recognised as a Saint for this part of the world, but not yet for the Church universal. From now on the first of February will be celebrated as his feastday.
We wish to express our gratitude to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for officially recognising Benedict as a martyr and for sending Cardinal Amato to lead the ceremony of beatification in his name.
We also express our appreciation and gratitude to the Diocese of Tzaneen and the many people who have worked in promoting the Cause of Benedict Daswa and in preparing for his beatification.
The beatification will take place during Holy Mass at Tshitanini near Thohoyandou in the Province of Limpopo, the home and place of martyrdom of Benedict. The little church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, at Nweli, near to the site of beatification, will serve as the temporary resting place of the mortal remains of this martyr.
We invite as many as possible of the faithful to be present at the beatification ceremony. It is our wish that those who cannot come to the ceremony be united in spirit and prayer with those present at Tshitanini. During the coming weeks we encourage all the faithful to be united with the Diocese of Tzaneen in prayerful preparation for the beatification.
We encourage all the faithful to imitate Benedict Daswa by living their Catholic faith with courageous and humble commitment. Pray to him and make novenas to him, asking for special graces and favours and even miracles. Display his picture in your parish churches and homes, in your Catholic schools and other church buildings. Go as pilgrims to visit the shrine of Benedict Daswa as it develops in the coming years and also visit his tomb at the nearby church at Nweli. We also appeal to your generosity in giving financial support to the Diocese of Tzaneen to help with the development of the shrine which will cost a considerable amount of money.
Benedict can only become a Saint for the whole Church if he is canonised. For this to take place, a sign from God, a miracle in answer to Benedict’s prayers, must take place. Any claims to such a miracle would need to be thoroughly investigated by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which up to now has made a thorough study of the testimonies given by people who knew Benedict well. It is important that we pray to this martyr for the faith with confidence, using the official prayer to obtain favours as a witness for his canonisation. Any answers to prayers should be reported to the Promoter of the Cause for Canonisation of Benedict Daswa in the Diocese of Tzaneen.
We ask God to bless the peoples of Southern Africa on the occasion of the beatification of Benedict Daswa and we invoke the prayers and patronage of our Mother, Mary, Queen Assumed into heaven.
Archbishop of Cape Town
President of SACBC
The readings of the above Sundays touch more the issue of the Sacrament of Marriage. The family Desk of the SACBC to this initiative from the suggestions of Bishops of Africa after the Synod in 1994. We are trying to help couples and all grouping in families to support marriage, since this sacrament affects all in one way or another.
We know that some dioceses will have their own programmes. We invite them also to share with us their programmes in order to help each other with the resources. The themes from our Family year Planner are the following:
AUGUST: COMMITTED TO WOMEN, MEN AND RELATIONSHIPS
SEPTEMBER COMMITTED TO MARRIAGE
OCTOBER COMMITTED TO MARRIAGE AND MISSION
A MESSAGE FROM BISHOP ZOLILE PETROS MPAMBANI SCJ, Liaison bishop for the Family Apostolate of the SACBC,
Dear People of God,
Couples and families in our Southern African region, as elsewhere in Africa and the world, we are experiencing many stresses and difficulties. We were reminded at the 50th anniversary of the 2nd Vatican Council of its original words that the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of all people are our own as the followers of Christ. The Synod process now taking place recognises that it is in the families, as building blocks of society and of the Church, that the griefs and anxieties are experienced most deeply. However it is also in families that all their members should experience the joys and hopes that are God’s design/plan.
The Synod process is engaging with many of the difficult issues around divorce, remarriage and the place of children in such situations, cohabitation, same-sex unions and importantly a lack of appreciation of the value and beauty of marriage as the ideal foundation of family life.
The family theme chosen by the SACBC for 2015 “Marriage and Family, Committed to Love and Life” has been fleshed out for family formation over the months of the year. There will be a special emphasis on marriage for the liturgical weeks 21-27 of Ordinary Time with a celebration of MARRIAGE DAY on 4th October. This affords us an opportunity to highlight the Sacrament of Matrimony not only for our couples but for every member of their families and of the whole Church community. Youth are preparing for marriage in future; elderly may have lived their marriage faithfully, with its pains and joys over many years. Some men and women have lost a spouse through death or divorce but marriage nevertheless remains a value for them.
This moment of grace can be a time for renewal of our commitment to being family in the Church as Family of God in Africa. On behalf of the bishops of our region I encourage every diocese, parish, group and especially families and of course, you dear couples to use this opportunity well. It is opportune that MARRIAGE DAY coincides with the opening of the Synod on the Family on October 4th. In preparation let us join Pope Francis in prayer for the success of the Synod. It is my prayer that as we celebrate together the Sacrament of Matrimony your couple love for one another may grow and deepen your love of God too.
+ZOLILE PETROS MPAMBANI SCJ,
Suggested events to take place:
The Parish Priest and Assistant Priest, PPCs with the Parish Family Teams (where they exist) plan together the programme for this six weeks.
Using the Sunday Reading of the time
The Sunday readings are a helpful tool for priests and Lay Community Leaders (in the absence of the priest) to preach or share more what are readings say about commitment in marriage.
In the communities where both couples are the proclaimers of the Word on Sundays be given the opportunity to do the ministry together.
Fr. Sakhi Mofokeng
Secretary of the Department for the Laity
“Go and Make disciples of all the Nations”
Tel: 012 323 6458
Cell: 082 596 1932
|Briefing Paper 388||August 2015|
The Implications of South Africa’s Nuclear Power Programme
The demand for energy continually increases with South Africa’s developing population and economy. Nuclear power has been touted as one of the solutions to meet this ever‐increasing demand especially as, according to its proponents, it generates electricity in an environmentally responsible manner. South Africa’s only nuclear power plant, Koeberg, situated 30km north of Cape Town, consists of two pressurized water reactors, better known as EPR units. According to the 2012 national budget review, South Africa plans to build three new nuclear power plants, comprising six reactors, which will provide 9 600MW of power by 2029. The proposed sites are, once again, Koeberg; Bantamsklip on the southern Cape coast about seven kilometres from Pearly Beach; and Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape, near Cape St Francis. Koeberg currently produces 1 800MW of electricity. 1
The government’s decision to pursue the nuclear option is based on the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which called for planning to identify the lowest‐cost methods of meeting electricity demand by considering all resources, including energy efficiency measures. The IRP envisages 9600 MW of new nuclear capacity to be completed between 2023 and 2030.2
The revised demand projections indicated that no new nuclear base-load capacity would be required until after 2025 (and for lower demand not until at the earliest 2035) and that there are alternative options, such as regional hydro, that could meet the energy requirement before prematurely committing to a technology that may be redundant if the electricity demand expectations do not materialise. This shift in anticipated demand would require a reduction in nuclear capacity from 11 400MW to 6 660MW (of which Koeberg would still contribute 1 800MW, implying only 4 860 MW of new nuclear capacity). The gas capacity increases to 3 550 MW; while concentrated solar power (CSP) increases substantially; the incorporation of new wind data into the model decreases the wind capacity; and solar photovoltaics (PV) increase slightly. After different energy requirement scenarios were tested, the total capacity required amounted to 8 182 MW less than that foreseen in the IRP 2010, which would have an impact on electricity prices over the next fifteen years.3
According to the Integrated Resource Plan, more nuclear energy plants will need to be commissioned from 2023/24. Although nuclear power does provide a low-carbon base-load alternative, South Africa needs a thorough investigation on the implications of nuclear energy, including its costs, financing options, institutional arrangements, safety, environmental costs and benefits, localisation and employment opportunities, and uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication possibilities. While some of these issues were investigated in the IRP, a potential fleet of nuclear power stations will involve a level of investment unprecedented in South Africa. An in-depth investigation into the financial viability of nuclear energy is thus mandatory.
In November 2011, the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordinating Committee (NNEECC) was established by Cabinet. This body was tasked with providing oversight and decision-making on nuclear policy and the new build programme and, accordingly, was mandated to make a final decision on South Africa’s nuclear future, especially after actual costs and financing options were revealed.4 On 27 March 2015, President Zuma informed the nation that in June 2014, the NNEECC was converted into the Energy Security Cabinet Subcommittee (ESCS), responsible for oversight, coordination and direction of activities for the entire energy sector. The committee comprised the following members:
* The Minister of Energy, Ms Tina JoematPettersson;
* The Minister of Public Enterprise, Ms Lynne Brown;
* The Minister of International Relation and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane;
* The Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo;
* The Minister of Finance, Mr Nhlanhla Nene;
* The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies;
* The Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel;
* The Minister of Mineral Resource, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi;
* The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa;
* The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.5
3. Roundtable Discussion
The CPLO was driven to organise a roundtable discussion on the Implications of a South African Nuclear Build on 22 May 2016 in order to explore the pending procurement. The speakers at the occasion were Mr Shane Pereira from Lesedi Nuclear Services; Mr Andrew Kenny, an independent energy consultant; Ms Liz McDaid from the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI); and Mr Saliem Fakir from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Mr Pereira examined the construction implications of such an infrastructural endeavor; Ms McDaid focused on the socio-economic implications, exploring the legacy of nuclear energy in South Africa as well as in other countries worldwide; Mr Kenny looked at the positive results of having nuclear as our main source of energy; and Mr Fakir spoke about other energy options we could adopt instead of going the nuclear route.
A big disadvantage of the nuclear option is the large capital investment required. Vital as energy security is, spending approximately R1trillion on an energy venture may bring about problems of constitutionality. The subject of base-load power was a recurring issue in the discussion, as nuclear proponents consider it as the perfect replacement for coal; and they doubt whether renewable sources of energy can deliver reliably. On the other hand, civil society has to ensure that the procurement deals do not indemnify the nuclear vendors from liability claims in the event of any radiation accidents.
The fact is that coal and nuclear offer relatively long-term solutions, while South Africa faces an immediate a power crisis. This is where renewable energy does play a role, as it has much shorter lead-in times to become operational. For example, wind farms can be built when required, and comparatively cheaply. It was pointed out that nuclear energy means highly centralised stations, unlike renewables, which can be spread out more in alignment with the country’s natural resources. The incremental commodification of nature was queried: who bears the burden and who gets the benefit? One poignant remark was that the rich will go off the grid, using private renewable sources of energy, while the poor will suffer and bear the brunt of the rising electricity costs. There was no unanimity on what the implications of a South African nuclear build would be, but the discussion did clearly outline worries about corruption and management, and the transparency of any deal that is brokered.
4. Nuclear Developments
South Africa’s energy plan lists Eskom as the owner and operator of the 9 600 megawatts of nuclear-powered generating units that are to be built by 2030. However, on 2 June 2015, Zizamele Mbambo, Deputy Director-General of Nuclear at the Department of Energy, confirmed that Eskom had approached government and said that in its present situation it cannot handle the nuclear build program. Thus, it seems that the Department of Energy will be the implementing agency instead, which alters government’s current policy. A dedicated management team is being set up to run the process; they will consult with Eskom, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) & the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in this regard. 6
The NNR’s preparedness for a nuclear build is assessed in terms of regulatory readiness, human resource and skills readiness, international relations and cooperation, and its preparedness to dealing with challenges. A self-assessment was carried out in 2010 with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) tools, where a number of gaps were identified in the regulatory framework. Subsequently an action plan was developed to address the gaps, while new regulations were developed and finalized in 2014; these were submitted to the Minister of Energy for further processing and promulgation. A draft amended NNR Act has been submitted to the Minister of Energy in 2014 and will be in effect by mid-2017, subject to legislative and other processes.7 Financial viability and sustainability was one of the specific areas of concern that required keen monitoring, as NNR faced insufficient funding due to the diminishing state allocation, coupled with delays in the approval and gazetting of authorisation fees, difficulties in economic conditions, and non-payment of authorisation fees by some authorisation holders. A revised financial model should assist in alleviating this risk once it is approved by the executive authority.8
During the 2014 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Zuma announced that nuclear energy would eventually provide more than 9 Giga Watts (9 600MW) of electricity in the energy mix. In the same year the Department of Energy signed inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) with Russia, France and China. Since then, further agreements have been signed with the USA and South Korea, and negotiations are underway to conclude IGAs with Canada and Japan. These IGAs lay the foundation for cooperation, trade and exchange of nuclear technology, as well as procurement. The IGAs described broad areas of nuclear cooperation, but they differ in emphasis based on the unique package offered by each country. The vendors made presentations on their offerings for the full nuclear value chain, including areas such as the technology, uranium mining, conversion, enrichment, fuel fabrication, localisation and industrialisation, power generation, safety and licensing, job creation, research and development, skills transfer, and development. The conclusion of this vendor parade marks a significant milestone in the preprocurement phase for the roll-out of the nuclear new build programme. Going forward, government will design and launch a formal procurement process.9
Deputy Director-General Mbambo, claims that the Nuclear Build Programme will create approximately 30 000 to 180 000 direct and indirect jobs during the 10 year construction phase; and in the range of 12 000 and 30 000 direct and indirect jobs during the operational period of 50 years. Nuclear energy, the government argues, will provide low cost, reliable base-load electricity. The main challenge with the nuclear programme, however, is around funding for capacity building and training for the programme. The Department of Energy is
engaging with National Treasury on this matter.10
In the forefront of the procurement process, it must be noted that the Constitution of South Africa specifically regulates public procurement. Section 217 of the Constitution provides as follows:
(1) “When an organ of state in the national, provincial or local sphere of government, or any other institution identified in national legislation, contracts for goods or services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective”.11
At this early stage of the process, warnings have already been given that the procurement is not happening in a transparent manner. Both the energy minister and various officials have declined to provide details of agreements, or to indicate which the preferred partner country(ies) are. Suggestions by Russian officials that their bid is the one most favourably considered by the SA government have not been convincingly rebutted. All this also calls into question the fairness and equitability of the process.
Over and above the procurement process itself, many activists and experts are troubled by the magnitude of the envisaged expenditure. The figure of R1 trillion (roughly equivalent to SA’s total annual budget) has been widely mentioned, and no-one in government has suggested that this is unrealistically high. However, past experience with ‘mega projects’ such as the Gautrain and the World Cup stadiums suggests that the final cost is likely to be significantly higher than that first envisioned. The Medupi power station, for example, was initially forecast to cost R35 billion. Government now admits that its final price tag will be at least R105 billion, while private sector experts suggest anything from R150 to R300 billion (bearing in mind that Medupi is not scheduled to be completed for another six years at least).12 If something similar were to occur with the nuclear power stations – and there is no reason to assume that it won’t – the final cost could well be between R2 and R4 trillion. Given that Eskom’s current credit-rating (which determines its ability to borrow money internationally) is at ‘junk’ status, and given that the government’s budget deficit is already on an upward path, it is something of a mystery to know where R1 trillion, let alone R2 or R3 trillion, are going to be found.
5.3. An obsolete idea?
But perhaps the most worrying aspect of the nuclear build programme is that it is taking place at a time when investment in alternative energy sources is surging ahead, and when the unit cost of sustainable electricity is coming down. Two recent studies quoted in Business Day indicate that wind and solar energy, along with coal (to which we are already deeply committed) are considerably cheaper per unit than nuclear; only diesel and gas turbines are more expensive.13
There is no doubt that alternative energy is going to grow in South Africa. We have among the world’s greatest solar energy potentials, and we are making enormous strides in wind energy as well. In 2012, South Africa was among the world’s top ten investors in renewable energy, surpassing much bigger economies such as Brazil and France14, and the pace of investment has, if anything, picked up since then. To give credit where it is due, Eskom, along with numerous private sector partners, has been in the forefront of this process.
It is all the more curious, therefore, that the authorities should be planning to spend so much money on extremely expensive technology, that is ultimately reliant on the support of international partners whose loyalty cannot be taken for granted; and which allows for no sharing of the cost by the private sector. The whole burden is going to fall on the shoulders of South African taxpayers and consumers. The situation is very different with renewable energy, where relatively small amounts – in the tens or hundreds of millions of Rands – can be readily supplied by entrepreneurs who build wind-farms or solar energy plants and add their output to the national grid.
It is undeniable that South Africa is in the throes of an energy crisis that could have further economic and other adverse repercussions. The country simultaneously faces a host of major development challenges, exacerbated by the legacy and structures of apartheid. These include a dramatic gap between rich and poor, lack of infrastructure, high levels of urbanisation and unemployment, extreme inequality and poverty, and huge backlogs in service delivery to the majority of South Africans. Nuclear energy proponents consider it to be the solution to our energy woes, and it is clear that government has riskily chosen to pursue the nuclear build in the face of financial and infrastructural limitations. South Africa needs a substitute plan, a ‘Plan B’, should nuclear energy prove too expensive, sufficient financing be unavailable, or timelines too tight. As stated in the
National Development Plan, all possible alternatives need to be explored because the implications of the proposed nuclear build are extensive and far reaching indeed. South Africa’s governance track record needs to be looked at realistically; and an active citizenry must make sure that it does not end up paying for an illadvised and needlessly expensive ‘mega-project’.
“Mining should also be about people”: Justice and Peace Commission calls for establishment of a social compact in the mining sector to avoid job cuts
The Justice and Peace Commission for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has spoken out against plans by mining companies to retrench thousands as the mining sector in South Africa grapples with a deepening slide in commodity prices and rising costs.
Says Bishop Abel Gabuza, Chairperson of the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission: “As pastors we are always saddened by the suffering that thousands of our people experience when there is restructuring and massive job cuts in any industry in South Africa. That is why we applaud the Minister of Mineral Resources for the initiative that he has taken and the leadership he has demonstrated to get the stakeholders in the mining sector in South Africa to explore alternatives to retrenchments and re-skilling of mine workers.”
The Commission has also called on the Government, mining houses and labour to consider broadening the terms of their engagement to include establishment of a comprehensive social compact in the mining sector.
“We agree with those who argue that the current global economic environment necessitates establishment of a social compact so as to ensure competitiveness and sustainability of our mining sector that is required to create and retain jobs. However, we believe that such a social compact should be built on the principle of wealth sharing, and not only on loss sharing,” says Bishop Gabuza.
“The mining houses seem to seek a social compact that emphasizes the sharing of pain when commodity prices fall. We need a social compact that also emphasizes sharing of accumulated wealth with workers when the commodity prices rise. This should include the establishment of a Worker Sustainability Wage Fund during the years of super-profits to ensure adequate provision for workers when the commodity prices fall.”
The Commission also believes that the principles of putting people before profit and the common good should form the basis of the social compact.
“In the midst of low commodity prices we are told by some mining houses that mining is a business, and not a charity. We are told that in lean times mining is essentially about controlling costs, including labour costs, and disinvesting in loss-making assets so as to achieve better returns for shareholders as suppliers of capital. We would like to remind the industry that during these lean times mining should also be about people, especially the livelihoods of workers who helped the mining companies to make huge returns for shareholders during the years of super-profits. We have always emphasized that mining should also be about the common good – and not only what is good for shareholders at the expense of the broader society. If the mining sector is serious about a social compact, it should embrace these principles.”
The Commission therefore calls on the mining houses to show a greater level of leadership to create the environment of trust required for successful negotiation of a social compact.
“A strong impression has been created that the mining houses in South Africa are opportunistically using the global resource crisis as an excuse to implement their long-held strategy of disposing of their assets, cutting jobs and blocking demands for a living wage. The mining houses have not done enough to convince the unions that this is not the case. To correct this impression and create an environment of trust, the mining houses should show leadership and consider opening up their financial books to the unions.”
For further information or interviews please contact:
Bishop Abel Gabuza
Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Tel. 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862.