S.African president puts brakes on oil and gas bill
A controversial South African oil and gas bill giving the state free ownership of stakes in new energy projects has been sent back to parliament for reconsideration, the president announced Friday.
Passed by parliament in March, the bill was referred to President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law.
“After careful consideration of the Bill and the submissions received, the President is of the view that the Bill as it stands would not pass constitutional muster,” his office said in a statement.
The bill would have given the state 20 percent ownership in energy ventures and the right to buy an additional stake, dismaying companies considering exploration.
Already a mining giant in coal, gold and platinum, South Africa has repeatedly sought to assure investors that the nationalisation of mines is not an option.
But the ruling African National Congress pushed the energy bill through parliament with 226 votes to 66 less than two months before general elections last year.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance strongly opposed the bill, saying it would threaten new investment as the country tries to break into the oil and gas sector.
At the other end of the political spectrum, the ANC-breakaway Economic Freedom Fighters, the second strongest party in parliament, has repeatedly called for the nationalisation of mining.