Radebe replaces Necsa board over ‘defiance’ and ‘ineptitude’

  |  by Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said that the replacement or the chairman Dr Kelvin Kemm and complete board of the Southern African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) was warranted given its failures to exercise its fiduciary duties.

Energy Minister Hon. Jeff Radebe

The minister was speaking at a briefing in Pretoria on Friday 7 december 2018.

Necsa conducts research and development in the field of nuclear energy, radiation sciences and technology. It is also responsible for uranium enrichment. Cabinet approved the new board this week.

The minister announced the new board, which now comprises: Dr Robert Adam (who will replace Dr Kelvin Kemm), Dr Ramatsemela Masango, Aadil Patel, Bishen Singh, Pulane Kingston, Mathlodi Ngwenya, Jabulani Ndlovu and Pulane Molokwane.

CEO Phumzile Tshelane, meanwhile, has been placed on precautionary suspension. Radebe said there will be an investigation into allegations of irregularities by him. Depending on the outcomes of the investigation, disciplinary proceedings may or may follow.

In the interim, Don Robertson has been appointed acting CEO. Robertson is a former managing director of a subsidiary of Necsa, namely NTP Radioisotopes. “He will assist the board to restore good governance and bring financial sustainability to the organisation,” said Radebe.

‘Serious governance issues’

Radebe said serious governance issues dogged the previous board.

He mentioned a laundry list of issues, including legislative non-compliance, non-adherence to specific instructions from the department of energy, financial mismanagement, remuneration irregularities, unauthorised international travel and a memorandum of understanding signed with a foreign entity – Russian firm Rosatom – despite the minister’s instructions not to (see charges by Minister Radebe against Dr Kemm here).

“On a number of occasions, the Necsa board failed to execute its statutory mandate in a satisfactory and prudent manner”, he said.

In the meantime, former chairman Dr Kemm, suspended CEO Phumzile Tshelane and former board member Bosman have applied for an urgent high court interdict challenging their removal by Minister Radebe (see full court application and affidavit by Dr Kemm here).

Further background reading

  1. Necsa board, chairman and CEO on the ropes – by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers, 2 December 2018
  2. Nuclear sector governance in South Africa heads for the courts again – by Chris Yelland, EE Publishers, 5 December 2018
  3. State-owned nuclear medicine maker reopens after crippling shutdown – by Karyn Maughan, Sunday Times, 26 November 2018.
  4. South African nuclear radioisotope production facility back in business, but… – by Mike Rycroft, EE Publishers, 20 November 2018.
  5. Another nuclear safety scare at Pelindaba as management fumbles – by Micah Reddy, amaBhungane, 20 June 2018.
  6. Is a nuclear success story about to be snuffed out? – by Micah Reddy, Amabhungane, 5 February 2018


This article was first published by Fin24 and is republished here with permission.

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