IUCN and South African Government Facing a Conundrum With Ex Environmental Minister

20 October 2005 - During this week of intense negotiations at the South African National Climate Change Conference, it must be noted that a key figure in South Africa’s recent environmental legacy, ex-environmental Minister, Mr Valli Moosa, continues his role with the environment movement by being President of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a non-executive board member of Eskom (a South African energy parastatal that is pushing nuclear energy), and a director in a carbon trading company.

Mr Valli Moosa, when in office, oversaw his officials' approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. Subsequently this approval was challenged in South African courts, and has been set aside for the present. It must be noted that South Africa does not yet have policy in place on the management of nuclear waste.

Mr Valli Moosa must also be remembered, as the Minister for Provincial and Local government, for his facilitation of the privatisation of municipal services and the process of cost recovery, which has resulted in people on the ground losing their access to basic services.

Mr Valli Moosa as the Environmental Minister played a role in the debate with regard to emission (carbon) trading which results in large global polluters defaulting on real reductions of their pollution at source, rather buying “pollution credits” to claim reductions in pollution.

Out of his key role as a government official he walks into the private sector as well as the IUCN. This revolving door policy is nothing unique to Mr Valli Moosa, it is a common practice within government and between government and the corporate sector which results in the continual marginalisation of peoples’ demands for a fairer share of democracy such as clean energy, and free and affordable basic services.

The system of attaining peoples’ knowledge through government office and then using it to advantage oneself financially is even considered by government as not appropriate and a “cooling of period” policy has been adopted by the African National Congress [1]. This cooling off period however is being ignored by people such as Mr Valli Moosa and other prominent figures such as Mr Alistair Ruiters, ex-Director General of Trade and Industry [2]. Recently the South African cabinet has appointed a former official of the PBMR Company (owned by Eskom), Mr Maurice Magugumela, as chief executive of the National Nuclear Regulator. This revolving door policy also has implications for the neutrality of the regulator.

These conflicts of interest undermine the integrity of the IUCN and the SA government and all its noble intentions.

For more information:

Bobby Peek 082 464 1 383

[1] http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=252512&area=/columnist_franz_kruger/

[2] http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=2818418